Madeleine McCann: Scotland Yard fly to Portugal to observe new questioning of witnesses

Part of Scotland yard's Operation Grange was launched in 2011 after a number of appeals from Gerry and Kate McCann

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Scotland Yard detectives have flown to Portugal to observe the questioning 11 people about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

British police officers will join Portuguese colleagues while the 11 individuals, believed to include British-born witness Robert Murat, are questioned in Faro today.

It is understood that those questioned as part of Operation Grange, the multi-million pound investigation launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011, will be treated as witnesses rather than suspects in the investigation.

The interviews come six months after officers searched scrubland alongside Portuguese colleagues in the area that Madeleine went missing.

 

The toddler, aged three at the time of her disappearance, vanished from an holiday apartment room in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in 2007.

A Portuguese investigation headed by police chief Goncalo Amaral, which was closed in 2008, did not turn up any major clues.

Mr Murat was investigated as part of this original operation and was the first suspect. However, lack of evidence meant that he was never arrested by Portuguese authorities.

The IT consultant, who was born in the UK but lives in Portugal, has enduring significant media intrusion into his personal life. In July 2008 he won over £600,000 in libel damages from a number of national newspapers over their coverage. Since then, Mr Murat has stated he is happy to help with the continuing investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

Following appeals from Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann, both 46, Mr Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May ordered Scotland Yard to open its own investigation three years ago in 2011.

Operation Grange, which is believed to have cost in the region of £7.3 million, has uncovered a number of significant leads.

 

Headed by Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Redwood, who announced his retirement last week, the investigation is further staffed by 28 detectives and seven other staff.

Scotland Yard has declined to comment, saying it will not provide a "running commentary" on the inquiry

This week, Mr and Mrs McCann will also hear final speeches from lawyers involved in a £1million libel action brought by the couple against former Portuguese Mr Amaral over claims he made in his 2008 book The Truth Of The Lie.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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