HOLIDAY FLATS ‘WERE NOT SEARCHED’

PORTUGUESE police hunting for Madeleine McCann faced further criticism last night for allegedly failing to search empty apartments yards from where she was snatched.

Detectives in the Algarve have come under intense pressure over a growing catalogue of mistakes during an inquiry that critics fear has stalled.

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POPE’S BLESSING FOR A MUM IN TORMENT

During the emotional meeting Pope Benedict XVI took hold of Mrs McCann’s hand and offered tender words of comfort and prayers. He also blessed pictures of Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie.

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“MUMMY WILL BE HOME SOON”

DISTRAUGHT mother Kate McCann struggles to hold back tears as she bids an emotional goodbye to her son Sean yesterday.

She hugged and kissed two-year-old Sean and his twin sister Amelie before flying out of Portugal for the first time since her daughter Madeleine was snatched.

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AUDIENCE WITH POPE FOR MADDY’S MUM

THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann are to meet the Pope, it was revealed last night.

Gerry and Kate McCann, both Roman Catholics, could be granted an audience with Benedict XVI as early as Wednesday.

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CAMILLA’S ‘CONCERN’ OVER MADELEINE

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall said they had been following the case of missing Madeleine McCann “closely and with deep concern” and “fervently hoped” she would be reunited with her family.

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KEY WITNESS ‘SAW MADELEINE’

A close friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, she saw a young blonde girl wearing “distinguishable” pyjamas and wrapped in a blanket.

Described as the “principal witness” in the case by police sources, the woman has now returned to the UK and is brooding over what she saw.

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MADDY’S PARENTS: ‘THE GUILT WILL NEVER LEAVE US’

Gerry McCann compared eating in the tapas bar at the Ocean Club Resort in Praia da Luz as like “having dinner in your garden”.

But he said: “I think it’s fair to say that the guilt that we feel having not been there at that moment, irrespective of whether we had been in the next bedroom or not, will never leave us.”

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WEARING A RIBBON FOR MADDY

THE campaign to find Madeleine McCann was gathering new momentum yesterday with a host of celebrities wearing her symbolic yellow ribbon.

Heading the star cast was footballer David Beckham, as he posed for pictures with leading actress Helen Mirren at the Greatest Britons 2007 awards in London.

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MADELEINE’S FATHER IN NEW APPEAL

The father of missing Madeleine McCann has issued a direct plea for suspects in the case to be treated as innocent unless proven guilty.

Gerry McCann said Madeleine’s family wanted anyone under suspicion to be treated “the way we would hope to be treated”.

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