Tuesday May 22, 2007

David Pilditch and Matt Drake in Praia da Luz

THE chief suspect in the likely kidnap of Madeleine McCann may cash in by selling his story.

Oddball Robert Murat, 33, has contacted PR guru Max Clifford at his London office.

Mr Murat, who claims he is innocent, wants Mr Clifford to represent him in any media deals.

Mr Clifford represented US sportsman and actor OJ Simpson when he was accused but later found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Mr Clifford said last night that he had spoken to Mr Murat and his mother Jenny, and offered them free advice about handling the media.

He said he had “a tremendous amount of sympathy” for Mr Murat but would not formally represent him until he is cleared by Portuguese police.

He said: “When I spoke to Robert, he was in tears and said: ‘I am innocent and I will prove I am innocent’, and thanked me for listening to him.

“I told him that provided he is cleared I will be happy to talk to him because everybody in the world will want to interview him.”

Asked if Mr Murat planned to make money out of his story, his spokesman Tuck Price said: “Robert’s concern is to clear his name. After that, things may change.”

Yesterday it was revealed that Madeleine’s brother and sister have been gently asked if they could provide any details which could help identify her abductor. However, twins Sean and Amelie, two, have no memories of what happened and still believe they are holiday.

Yesterday, at noon, a one-minute silence initiated by an anonymous chain email was observed. Madeleine’s mother Kate and family members observed the silence inside their Ocean Club apartment in Portugal.

Last night Madeleine’s father Gerry visited the war memorial in the family’s home town of Rothley, Leics, to look at tributes which have been left there.

Mr McCann, 38, jetted back to Britain early yesterday to meet organisers of the Find Madeleine fund and attend to personal matters in preparation for an expected prolonged stay in Portugal.

The family are clinging on to the belief that Madeleine is still alive but Portuguese police admitted that hopes are fading.

A police source told a Portuguese newspaper: “It is painful to say this but we have to be realistic. The chances of finding the girl alive are less likely every day.”

They admitted they have yet to find proof linking Murat to Madeleine’s abduction but they confirmed that they were working on the theory she had been snatched by a paedophile.

Portuguese detectives arrived in Marrakech yesterday after holidaymaker Mari Pollard said she saw Madeleine at a Moroccan petrol station.

She became suspicious after a “lost-looking” child asked a man: “Can I see mummy soon?”

Mrs Pollard, who lives in southern Spain with her British husband Ray, said: “I am certain the girl I saw was Madeleine.”

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