The Madeleine McCann case now has a list of new potential suspects and detectives have urged their counterparts in Portugal to investigate them as soon as possible.
More than 20 names were added to the investigation and have been identified by British police.
A Scotland Yard review of the bungled Portuguese inquiry into the three-year-old’s disappearance in 2007 has uncovered dozens of fresh leads, it emerged yesterday.
They include “forensic opportunities” and several “people of interest,” including Britons, who have not been eliminated from the case.
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, are said to be “greatly encouraged” by the developments. But a major diplomatic row is brewing because the Portuguese authorities are adamant they will not reopen the inquiry. Officials in Lisbon have told their British counterparts that under Portuguese laws, they can reopen the case only if there is new evidence.
But Yard chiefs — who want the Portuguese to agree to a joint investigation — say their new leads could, if properly explored, result in new evidence and possibly the Maddie mystery being solved.
One well-placed source described the deadlock as “a Mexican stand-off.”
“It’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Significant new evidence can be found if the leads uncovered by the Yard are investigated. There are two major obstacles to a joint investigation: the money to fund it in Portugal and the loss of face they would suffer from having to agree to such an inquiry,” the source said.
It is understood high-level discussions have taken place in the UK about the possibility of Scotland Yard launching its own investigation. British police do not have jurisdiction in Portugal, but they have the right to investigate and prosecute any British suspects linked to Madeleine’s disappearance.