UK

Madeleine McCann Investigation To Be Reopened By Portuguese Police

24/10/2013 13:37 BST | Updated 24/10/2013 14:16 BST

Portugal's attorney general has approved a police request to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry said they were "very pleased" at the development, and hope that it will uncover "the answers we so desperately need".

"We once again urge any member of the public who may have information relating to Madeleine's abduction to contact the police in Portugal or the UK," they said in a statement.

"Please be patient and respect the work of the police as they endeavour to find the answers we so desperately need."

The case was shelved in 2008 leaving detectives from the UK's Metropolitan Police Service to carry on the search.

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Madeleine and a computer generated image of how she may look now

Carrie-Marie Bratley of the Portugal news told Sky News: "There are people who are extremely supportive of the McCanns, there are people who are extremely sympathetic ... and they are very much interested in this case.

She added that officers in any new investigation would have had no involvement in the initial police operation and were chosen for "their emotional and physical distance from this case in the hope that maybe they could go over it with a fine-tooth comb and come up with something, which it seems they may have done."

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The news comes after a recent Crimewatch appeal which featured e-fits of a man wanted for questioning drew thousands of responses.

The man was allegedly seen in and around the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.

Detectives also say the accepted version of events surrounding the disappearance the little girl in 2007 has "significantly changed".

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Madeleine McCann's parentsGerry and Kate McCann who are 'greatly encouraged' by new information

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said: "Primarily what we sought to do from the beginning is try and draw everything back to zero if you like. Try and take everything back to the beginning and re-analyse and reassess everything, accepting nothing."

"The careful and critical analysis of the timeline has been absolutely key.

"Primarily, we're focused on the area between 8.30 and 10.

"We know at 8.30 that was the time Mr and Mrs McCann went down to the tapas area for their dinner and we know that around at 10pm that was when Mrs McCann found that Madeleine was missing."

A spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann said they believed the change in heart of the Portuguese could be in part because of the publicity surrounding the appeal.

They said: "Kate and Gerry don’t want to get their hopes up too much. But if the Portuguese do resume their investigation it would be a significant development and an important step forward."

The Metropolitan Police now has a team of six Portuguese detectives based in Faro, who are carrying out inquiries on its behalf.

The McCanns are currently suing former police chief Goncalo Amaral for libel over claims in the book The Truth Of The Lie.