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Madeleine McCann News: Sixth Anniversary Of Disappearance Of Toddler In Praia Da Luz

03/05/2013 08:35 BST | Updated 03/05/2013 11:13 BST

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing on May 3, 2007, during a family holiday in Praia da Luz.

She would now be 10 and her parents Gerry and Kate insist the search for her is very much ongoing.

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Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007

Speaking just two days after his daughter’s disappearance, Gerry issued the couple’s first public appeal to trace her.

Visibly distraught, he pleaded: "Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister."

The McCanns met the Pope at the Vatican around three weeks later. Speaking after the meeting, Gerry revealed: "I do not know how we will have changed but I think it is fair to say we will never be the same again."

In their first interview since the disappearance of their daughter, the couple insisted they had not acted irresponsibly.

Kate said: "I think we were naive, we are very responsible parents, we love our children very much.

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Kate and Gerry McCann insist they will never give up the search for their daughter

"I don't think any parent could imagine or consider anything like this happening."

In September 2007, the pair returned home to Rothley, Leicestershire.

In the same month, they were also named by Portuguese police as formal suspects in the case.

On the runway of East Midlands Airport, Gerry said: "Despite there being so much we wish to say, we are unable to do so, except to say this: We played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine."

In January 2008, Gerry spoke of the guilt over his daughter's disappearance in an interview with an American magazine.

He said: "I wish I hadn't gone to the tapas bar. I wish I'd stayed in the apartment that night. I wish I'd stayed in the room when I checked on her five minutes longer."

In May 2008, Kate spoke to the congregation at a church in Rothley during a service to mark the one-year anniversary of her daughter's disappearance.

She said: "Keep praying, pray like mad."

In December 2009, Kate said she felt closer to her missing daughter Madeleine after returning to Praia da Luz for the first time since she was named as a prime suspect by police.

She said: "Although our pain feels much rawer here, it is comforting at the same time since we feel closer to Madeleine."

In April 2010, Gerry urged the Government to review his daughter's disappearance and said the case had been neglected by British authorities.

"It's not right that an innocent, vulnerable British citizen is essentially given up on," he said.

In 2011, Kate penned a book, Madeleine, based on her diaries at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.

In it, she wrote: "I would lie in bed hating the person who had done this to us - the person who had taken away our little girl and terrified her."

The couple spoke about the press intrusion into their case at the Leveson inquiry in 2011.

Kate McCann said: "There was absolutely no respect shown for me as a grieving mother or a human being or to my daughter."

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Madeleine's parents met with Pope Benedict XVI weeks after her disappearance

She said she felt like "climbing into a hole and not coming out" after the News of the World printed her intensely personal diary, started after Madeleine disappeared.

"I felt totally violated. I had written these words at the most desperate time of my life, and it was my only way of communicating with Madeleine." The newspaper later apologised.

When the Leveson Report was published in November 2012, the couple welcomed its findings, but urged David Cameron to embrace it and act on it.

Gerry said: "I think the only reason we went to Leveson was to affect change and if Leveson's report isn't implemented in full then I would say that giving evidence for all of the victims has been almost useless.

"Our politicians have now got the ability to do the right thing, and the right thing is to implement in full.

"And I think the MPs have an opportunity to redeem themselves a little bit with the public by accepting this, putting party political issues aside, and doing the right thing for everyone involved."

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In the couple's Christmas message on the Find Madeleine website as they prepared for their sixth Christmas without Madeleine, they wrote: "We desperately hope of course that the official investigation to find Madeleine will be reopened - and soon - as we still believe this is probably our best chance of finding our little girl.

"Despite becoming stronger in ourselves and being able to create as special a Christmas as possible for our children, this time of year will never be as it should without Madeleine."

In February 2013, the McCanns say plans for a new press regulator backed by a Royal Charter are "a compromise of a compromise" that do not go far enough in holding the press to account.

Gerry told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "I feel that the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation over many, many years and I would have liked to have seen statutory regulation, not self-regulation."

There have been numerous reported sightings of Madeleine through the world. In 2007 photos of a blonde child being carried in a sling by a woman in Morocco prompted excited speculation she had been found.

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Bushra Binhisa - who was mistaken for Madeleine - with her parents and her family's registration certificate

It soon emerged the little girl - named Bushra Binhisa - was the daughter of an olive farmer of Berber extraction.

In July a British woman spotted a youngster “bearing a remarkable likeness to Madeleine” at a market in the northern Indian town of Leh.

There have also been reported sightings in Portugal, Belgium and France, but none have produced any firm leads.

In February a DNA sample from a young girl in New Zealand who had been mistaken for the missing child was sent to Scotland Yard.

It was later confirmed the voluntarily provided sample did not provide a match.

Madeleine McCann