McCanns outraged at failure to pass on details

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The Independent Online

A little girl who called herself Maddy and claimed she had been taken from her parents while on holiday was seen in a shop in Amsterdam days after Madeleine McCann vanished, according to documents released by the Portuguese police yesterday.

The Amsterdam sighting was one of the most intriguing of thousands reported to police in the Algarve, following three-year-old Madeleine's disappearance in May 2007.

Another sighting, captured on CCTV, showed a girl bearing a similarity to Madeleine holding the hand of a woman in a motorway service station in Lagos, under five miles from the Praia da Luz resort where Madeleine was holidaying with her parents.

That footage was filmed at 11.10am on 4 May last year, 13 hours after Madeleine went missing. Kate and Gerry McCann said the girl was not their daughter.

Both sightings were revealed in a 30,000-page file made public for the first time yesterday.

The Amsterdam sighting was reported by a Dutch shop worker, Anna Stam, who said she spoke to the girl, aged about three or four, who said her name was "Maddy" and added: "They took me from my holiday."

The girl entered her party shop in early May last year with a man and a woman and two other children, according to a witness statement to Dutch police in the Portuguese police files.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said it was "tragic" this kind of information should only be released now.

"It is harrowing to hear a child saying that. If it was Madeleine, it was a disgrace that it was not passed on," he said. "We need to know what happened with this. This is exactly the sort of primary information that we need to know was followed up properly by the police. If that hasn't been done, it is the kind of information the private investigators are going to follow up."

Ms Stam said the girl was with a man who seemed to be speaking in Portuguese and a woman who spoke English. They told Ms Stam they owned a small circus in France. Ms Stam was at the back of the shop when the young girl approached her and asked in English without an accent: "Do you know where my mummy is?"

The shop assistant answered that her mother was a little further back in the store but the child replied: "She is not my mummy," and added: "She is a stranger, she took me from my mummy."

When Ms Stam asked the girl where she last saw her mother, she replied: "They took me from my holiday." Ms Stam added: "I asked where that holiday was but the little girl was incapable of telling me. I even asked if she was on a camping site or in a hotel but she was unable to say. I told her I thought she was cute and asked if she wanted a balloon. She didn't. I thought it a odd. Then I heard the woman call the girl. She didn't call her Maddy, but a longer name. She could have said Madeleine but I don't remember that."

The girl had dark brown hair in a ponytail, "huge" green-brown eyes and a pale face which showed "little or no emotion", she said.

Ms Stam thought the child "very much like" Madeleine apart from her hair. The report was sent to the Portuguese authorities on 18 June last year. It is not clear what action was taken.

Also in the files was the fact that the Portuguese investigation had been heavily criticised by the country's public prosecutors. They condemned detectives for establishing "no element of proof" about what happened to Madeleine. The prosecutors also said none of the reasons as to why her parents Kate and Gerry were made suspects was "confirmed or consolidated".

The files also revealed that police in Portugal drew up e-fits of suspicious men seen in Praia da Luz before Madeleine went missing but never made them public. The images were based on accounts given by two British holidaymakers.

Derek Flack, from Ilford, Essex, described seeing a white man, aged 25 to 35, around 5ft 8in and of "strong physical build". The second e-fit, compiled with the help of Lance Purser, shows a skinny man of around 35, 5ft 8in with short dark hair.

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