London - Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann say they still have “significant” leads to pursue, ten years after she went missing from a Portuguese holiday resort.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there were “critical lines of enquiry of great interest to ourselves and our Portuguese counterparts, and there are some significant investigative avenues we are pursuing that we see as very worthwhile”.
The force still employs four officers on the case despite Mr Rowley acknowledging that the Met “does not have evidence telling us if Madeleine is alive or dead”.
Meanwhile, Madeleine’s mother has warned about the likelihood of new “misinformation, half-truths and downright lies” spread about her daughter’s disappearance. Kate McCann said the family has been bracing itself for a “stressful and painful” few weeks as the tenth anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance is marked on Thursday.
Ms McCann described the anniversary as a “horrible marker of time, stolen time”, but she also insisted the family was clinging on to the prospect that Madeleine may still be found alive, saying: "There will always be hope.”
Mark Rowley added: “It is a missing person’s inquiry but as a team we are realistic about what we might be dealing with – especially as months turn to years.” He refused to comment on other aspects of the investigation but said the Met’s “relationship with the Portuguese investigators is better than ever and this is paying dividends in the progress all of us are making”.
Three-year-old Madeleine vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3, 2007. Writing on the Official Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, Ms McCann said: “Ten years – there’s no easy way to say it, describe it, accept it.” She said media appearances were “draining and on occasion, unhelpful to the only thing we want, finding Madeleine”.
“They need to have a purpose. We could spend all our time and energy trying to defend ourselves by correcting inaccuracies and lies, but then we would have no strength left to look for Madeleine, look after our other children and to live our life. Even if little consideration for Gerry and me is shown, they will at least bear in mind the effect such unfounded and unwarranted negativity could have on our other children – and of course Madeleine.”
Ms McCann added: “We are bracing ourselves for the next couple of weeks. It's likely to be stressful and painful and more so given the rehashing of old ‘stories’, misinformation, half-truths and downright lies which will be doing the rounds in the newspapers, social media and ‘special edition’ TV programmes.” She also confirmed there is an “active” police investigation to try to find Madeleine and bring her abductor to justice.
“There are no new appeals that the police wish to make at this moment in time and so we are keeping any media involvement marking this unwanted milestone to a minimum,” she added.
Madeleine's disappearance sparked one of the most high-profile, and costly, police investigations of recent times. Scotland Yard has been assisting with the inquiry since 2011 at a cost of more than £11m.
Last month the Home Office confirmed it has granted officers £85 000 to carry on with the case for a further six months.The Independent