UPDATE: As Metropolitan police moved on to a new site near Praia da Luz in their high-profile ground search for clues into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, newspapers and television have been reporting conflicting stories. Some talk of the “huge disappointment” etched on the faces of the search teams while others proclaim arrests are “imminent”. The only certainty is that officers are unlikely to continue their operations beyond Saturday.
Sky News reported early on Wednesday morning that antipathy felt locally towards the search has now resulted in at least one area of malicious graffiti.
As residents have pointedly remarked since the arrival of the Met’s van-loads of officers and equipment, the timing of this exercise “could not have been worse”.
Holiday bookings dipped following news of the police presence and ‘media circus’ entourage and now – a week into the search and as the summer gets well underway – visitors are met by a police cordon on the left-hand side of the road leading into the village as officers set about scouring farmland behind a water treatment plant.
The land is believed to house a well – but, according to Portuguese press, all these locations were searched during the original investigation.
Indeed, Portuguese ‘experts’ called in to comment on the British-led search have been damning.
The supposed theory that Madeleine was abducted by drug-dealing burglars who left no sign of entry/ burglary or indeed any presence at all, has been dubbed “ludicrous”.
University professor Francisco Moita Flores, writing over the weekend, called the police exercise a “ridiculous farce” that was staged to create a smoke screen to obscure the truth. “They are not looking for mortal remains of the little girl, nor those who are guilty,” he said. “They are simply looking for an excuse.”