The man pictured in two e-fits released by police investigating the Madeleine McCann case was “seen carrying a child” on the night she disappeared, investigators have said.
The images, showing the same man, are based on two eye-witness reports from that night on 3 May 2007, and had never been released to the public until now.
Detectives say new information makes his sighting much more significant than previously thought, and said it was of “vital importance” that they speak to him about their inquiries.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is in charge of the investigation, said: “Our focus in terms of understanding what happened on the night of 3 May has now given us a shift of emphasis.
“It takes us through to a position at 10pm when we see another man who is walking towards the ocean, close by to the apartment, with a young child in his arms. This child is described as being about three to four years of age with blonde hair, possibly wearing pyjamas, and the man is a white man with dark hair.
“If this is you, and you are nothing to do with Madeleine's disappearance, then we really need to speak to you. It's so important for us to eliminate innocent sightings. But equally if anybody is looking at those e-fits and recognises the person, for whatever reason, then please have the courage to call in and tell us.”
While DCI Redwood urged everyone to tune in to Crimewatch this evening to see a reconstruction of the incident, an interview with Madeleine’s parents and a renewed appeal for information from the police, there are concerns that the new lines of inquiry are not receiving sufficient coverage in Portugal.
Paul Luckman, editor of the country’s largest English-language newspaper The Portugal News, told Sky News his readers were “fed up with” the case, and that the continued levels of interest in Madeleine’s whereabouts from people outside the country was “astounding”.
The e-fit images of the man have reportedly not been front page news, while the reconstruction is said not to be airing prominently.
In an appeal on tonight's Crimewatch, released by Scotland Yard, Madeleine’s mother Kate McCann says: “We're not the ones that have done something wrong here. It's the person who's gone into that apartment and taken a little girl away from her family.”
Prime Minister David Cameron gave his support to the investigation today.
“I'm very pleased that Scotland Yard are doing this work,” he said. “The Government has helped to fund the work that is being done.
“This was a crime that touched the heart of everyone in the country and everyone would like to see it resolved, so I hope Scotland Yard continue with their work and I wish them success.”