Friday May 11, 2007

By Geoff Marsh

THE DESPERATE father of missing Madeleine McCann insisted today his family would leave “no stone unturned” to be reunited with their daughter.

Gerry McCann, who was questioned by police yesterday and into the early hours of this morning, also said he had seen at first hand the resources being poured into the investigation.

He said that he and his wife Kate, who was standing by his side, were very grateful for all the efforts and offers of support they have received.

He said the couple had been moved by people’s willingness to do all they could to find the three-year-old, whose fourth birthday is tomorrow. More than a week after she was snatched from their Portuguese holiday apartment in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz, he said the family continued to pin their hopes on a positive outcome.

His words of hope came after it was announced that the search efforts would be coming to an end. Volunteers have been told by police, who are organising the search mission, that police teams were being stood down.

After intense criticism of the Portuguese police in the British media, Mr McCann acknowledged the “strong desire” that officers had to find Madeleine.

Speaking briefly to reporters just a few metres from the spot where his daughter was abducted, we said: “We have now seen at first hand how hard the police are working in the search for Madeleine and their strong desire to find her.

“We have also seen the resources being put into the investigation.

“We are doing absolutely everything to assist the police with their investigation and will leave no stone unturned in the search for our daughter Madeleine.

“We are very grateful for all the efforts and offers of support that we have had from home and from around the world.

“We have been moved by the enormous willingness of people to do all they can to help find Madeleine.

“As we have said before, we remain positive and focused on the investigation.”

The couple were driven to the town of Portimao at lunchtime yesterday to be questioned.

While Mrs McCann arrived back at their apartment in Praia Da Luz before 11pm, her husband remained at the police station, which was otherwise shuttered down, continuing to work with police into the early hours.

But at 9.15 this morning the couple were already up and out, dropping off their twins, Sean and Amelie, at a creche nearby.

Four other people, believed to be friends of the McCanns, were also questioned yesterday.

It was reported in the Portuguese newspaper Correio Da Manha that police had two suspects in mind.

Although police said last night that there had been no arrests, the newspaper reported that the two suspects were at the police station yesterday and the McCanns had been shown them to see if they could identify them.

While the McCanns were out, there was intense police activity around the apartments.

At one stage officers from Portugal’s Guarda Nacional Republicana were seen dramatically leaping between third-floor balconies and climbing over rooftops, apparently examining possible access or escape routes for a child snatcher.

Local volunteers confirmed that the search has now been called off.

Dave Shelton, who has been co-ordinating volunteers and liaising with police, said: “They called me last night about 9.30 and said we are standing down the search.

“I’ve got to go and see some of the searchers, I have a few more coming out from England, but in all frankness I don’t see any point in us wandering aimlessly around without any co-ordination.

“I’m not a professional, I don’t know how long these things should go on for, how many days.

“But again, you don’t know if it’s because they have got other clues. They might have something else they are working on. I just don’t know and I don’t need to know.

“I think they are satisfied that the surrounding area has been scoured. She may be a lot further away or maybe still in this small area.

“Even the areas we were doing had been searched before.”

He added: “You’ve got to try and remain positive about it and just hope we’re going to find her.”

Earlier today a businessman offered a reward of £1 million for information leading to the return of Madeleine.

Stephen Winyard, owner of Scottish health spa Stobo Castle, made the offer earlier this week through The Times.

Mr Winyard, a 57-year-old father of three who lives in Monaco, said he was moved to come forward by photographs of Madeleine’s distraught parents.

He said: “When I saw their faces, I felt frustrated that no one else had yet come forward offering a substantial reward, and so felt compelled to do so myself.”

It was not the first reward to be offered in the case. On Saturday a colleague of Madeleine’s mother offered a £100,000 reward for help in finding her.

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