The police in Portugal have re-opened their investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
A review team has been working since March 2011 to rake over the details of the original investigation and, after a period of collaboration with the Metropolitan Police, has decided to formally restart their inquiries.
Portuguese officers said their own leads were entirely separate to those already being pursued by the Met, as confirmed in meetings with Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, and Madeleine’s parents in Lisbon last week.
Kate and Gerry McCann said they were “very pleased” that Portuguese authorities planned to re-open their investigation and that they hoped that it will uncover “the answers we so desperately need”.
Mr Rowley, responsible for overseeing the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Unit, described today's development as “good news”.
“Combined with the formal reopening of the Portuguese investigation today, and our ever-closer working relationship, I believe that we have the best opportunity yet to finally understand what happened to Madeleine,” he said.
Madeleine McCann vanished during a family holiday in southern Portugal's Algarve region in May 2007, shortly before her fourth birthday.
Police there shelved their investigation in 2008, a year after her disappearance, but a team of detectives from Porto, in northern Portugal, began reviewing the evidence again almost two years ago.
British police have also been sifting through the case files in Portugal and say they have identified new avenues of investigation. Mr Rowley described their collaborative progress as “encouraging”, but added that “we still have a way to go”.
Speaking about recent events in Lisbon, he said: “The meeting was very positive, and we and the Policia Judiciara have a shared determination to do everything possible to discover what happened to Madeleine.
“Colleagues in Portugal fully shared with us the developments in their review, and the fact that they were taking the significant step of applying for the investigation to be formally reopened.
“This is a welcome development, but both sides of the investigation are at relatively early stages, with much work remaining to be done.”
Home Secretary Theresa May spoke to BBC News about the “very good collaboration” between the two forces, and said: “I think that is now starting to bear fruit.”
Yesterday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe appeared on LBC 97.3 radio to defend the way the Portuguese police handled their initial investigation.
“I think sometimes these things at the beginning can be very difficult to deal with, you don't know exactly if the child has just wandered off. It can be very difficult to know if you've got a very serious crime.
“I'm sure for them that must have been a challenge. Anybody can go back after two, three, five, six years and say 'why didn't you do that'? That's easy in hindsight.
“We don't like it when it happens to the Met, and I'm certainly not going to do it to the Portuguese.”
Additional reporting by The Associated PressReuse content