- (Photo: Metropolitan Police Service)
Police are examining several new leads in the case of Madeleine McCann, the little girl who disappeared six years ago when she was only three. Scotland Yard announced that they are now looking at several persons of interest as well as "investigative and forensic opportunities" in the case.
One of the leads centers on two separate groups of people: British cleaners working near the building where Madeleine and her family were staying in Portugal, as well as Portuguese manual laborers. The British cleaners' white van, which they used to get around the area at the time of McCann's disappearance, is being looked for.
"There are a lot of people who could be explored further, if only to be eliminated," Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, head of Scotland Yard's Homicide and Serious Crime Command, told the Daily Mail.
"You only have to look at the case in Cleveland, Ohio, and the European cases. Of course there is a possibility she is alive. But the key is to investigate the case and, alive or dead, we should be able to try and discern what happened," Campbell added.
Scotland Yard faces a challenge in working with Portuguese officials, who said they will only open their own case if there is new evidence. Scotland Yard officials, though, maintain that these new leads could lead to new evidence, thereby reopening the Portuguese investigation.
Police in Great Britain are working with Scotland Yard; their case was reopened last year after Prime Minister David Cameron granted the request from McCann's parents.
"Our investigative review is ongoing and we are encouraged by the progress we are making," Metropolitan officials said in a statement. "We are reviewing a significant number of documents and continue to identify potential lines of inquiry. We can confirm that as part of this process we have identified a number of persons of interest, but any suggestion that the MPS is asking the Portuguese police to make arrests in connection with this inquiry is entirely inaccurate."
McCann disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal six years ago, but her parents, Kate and Gerry, have never given up hope that they will find her. They run a website and 24-hour tip line in order to keep Madeleine's name in the public sphere and hopefully encourage someone to come forward with news.
"Kate and Gerry remain very, very pleased with the work that Scotland Yard are doing and have been encouraged by Operation Grange (the case review) from the day it began. Beyond that, they simply will not comment on what are police operational matters," Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the couple, told the BBC.