Police 'identify new female suspect' in Madeleine McCann case in 'hugely significant' development

Sources say lead could 'hold the key to solving the entire case'

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have identified a female suspect who they believe could be the key to solving the case, reports suggest.

Investigators are said to have searched all over Europe for the woman, who was seen close to the apartment in Praia de Luz, Portugal from which Madeleine was taken. Sources say officers will soon be in a position to question the suspect. 

“Detectives have scoured Europe looking for this woman who is thought to hold the key to solving the entire case,” a source told the Sunday Express.

Madeleine McCann 10 years on: Detectives still pursuing critical leads

“After months of tireless police work they will soon be in a position to move in and finally get some answers after a decade of dead ends. It is a hugely significant line of inquiry that officers hope could lead to an arrest.”

It was revealed earlier in the year that Metropolitan Police officers working on the case, codenamed Operation Grange, had identified a new person who they wanted to question and had been given an extra £85,000 by the Home Office to pursue the lead. The investigation, which to date has cost £11m, had been due to be closed but will now continue until at least September. 

Madeleine, then three years old, disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in the Algarve on 3 May 2007. Her mother, Kate, discovered her missing when she went to check on her during a meal with friends and found the window open and her oldest daughter gone.

The disappearance sparked one of the biggest missing person investigations of all time, with teams in both the UK and Portugal assessing hundreds of potential lines of inquiry and persons of interest. 

The latest development comes as Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, vowed to do “whatever it takes for as long as it takes” to find out what happened to their daughter.

During an interview with BBC presenter Fiona Bruce to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, Ms McCann said:‘‘We’ve come a long way and there is progress and there are some very credible lines of inquiry that the police are working on.

“Whilst there’s no evidence to give us any negative news, hope is still there.”

Kate and Gerry McCann vow to do 'whatever it takes for as long as it takes' in search for Madeleine

Mr McCann added: ‘‘They’ve managed to pull so much together and sift through so much information, so now we do seem to be on just several lines of inquiry rather than tens/hundreds.”

"We just have to go with the process and follow it through - whatever it takes for as long as it takes. There is still hope that we can find Madeleine."