THE parents of Madeleine McCann joined forces with the father of Claudia Lawrence at a fundraiser for a missing persons charity today.
Kate and Gerry McCann, who earlier this month marked the seventh anniversary of their daughter's disappearance, ran the Miles for Missing People race. The horn to start the race was sounded by Peter Lawrence as the investigation into his daughter, who went missing in 2009, continues. The race on Clapham Common in London came days after North Yorkshire Police arrested Michael Snelling, 59, on suspicion of murdering the missing chef.
Speaking after the 10km and 3km races, Mr Lawrence said: "A lot of people are here with a poster of their missing loved one, and it's right to display it, show what the charity is for. "I think it's always a poignant event coming here because you see all these people with missing shirts on them with posters and you just think this really needs to be out there. We all need to be together, we are all a big family. It [Missing People] is an absolute lifeline. Both for people who are missing, but most importantly the families of the thousands of people who are missing. Most people you talk to of course don't know what it's like to have a family member missing."
The annual event, run by charity Missing People and now in its fifth year, raises money for the organisation. Mr Lawrence added that even if his daughter is found he will continue to support the charity. He said: "I regularly meet other people with missing members of their family, and it's just being able to be together in the knowledge we all talk the same language. "Even if Claudia is found I will still be here for the sake of other people and the sake of the charity."
This image of a young football supporter bearing a strong resemblance to Madeleine McCann has gone viral, sparking fresh interest in the hunt for the missing English girl. The image was taken from ITV4's coverage of the Europa League final in Turin between Seville and Benfica on May 14.
The picture of the girl among supporters of Benfica, a Portuguese team based in Lisbon, was shared by hundreds who thought it resembled age-progressed images of Madeleine, who disappeared while on holiday with her family in Portugal's Algarve on May 3, 2007. People even suggested the girl had the same distinctive "flawed" eye feature, a dark mark on the iris.
The New Zealand Herald quoted a source close to Madeileine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, who said: "What is encouraging is that it shows everyone is still looking for Madeleine. That will give her family great strength." The Metropolitan Police, who are investigating the girl's disappearance, have been given permission to excavate the site she disappeared from.
There have been numerous reported sightings of McCann since she vanished. In 2013 a British woman spotted a youngster “bearing a remarkable likeness to Madeleine” at a market in the northern Indian town of Leh. There have also been reported sightings in Portugal, Belgium and France but none have produced any firm leads. In February last year a DNA sample from a young girl in New Zealand who had been mistaken for the missing child was sent to Scotland Yard.
The mother of murdered schoolgirl April Jones has joined Kate McCann to launch a new campaign aimed at signing up at least a million people to a missing children's alert scheme.
Coral Jones and Mrs McCann, mother of missing Madeleine, unveiled a digital billboard at King's Cross station today designed to issue alerts to the public about missing children. The scheme will use social media to broadcast alerts across the country when a missing child is believed to be in danger. 25,000 people have already signed up to the scheme ahead of its launch date on Sunday, International Missing Children's Day.
Coral Jones, whose daughter April was taken from outside her home in Machynlleth, North Wales, in October 2012 explained why her family was backing the new campaign: "The search for my beautiful April ended in tragedy and that is why I want to do everything I can to make sure that the next time a child is taken or in danger we can bring them home safely," Organisers say the scheme will be able to issue both localised and national alerts, and they are hoping the number of people signed up to the campaign will reach the one million mark by the end of its first year.
Mrs McCann also urged people to sign up to the alerts. "When a child is abducted, families are devastated and entire communities are torn apart. The agony of not knowing where your child is, is almost impossible to imagine. The helplessness is at times overwhelming. But there is now something we can all do to help."
As the search for missing Madeleine McCann steps up, a senior Scotland Yard officer has warned the investigation may still “draw a blank”. On Thursday Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced a “substantial phase of operational activity” was due to begin in Portugal.
Vowing his officers would work through every credible line of inquiry in the search, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley stated: “I want to be able to go back to Kate and Gerry at some stage in the future and tell them we’ve got to the bottom of this, or second best is to go back to them and say we’ve turned over every stone and we can’t get to an answer sometimes.”
He also cautioned that despite sifting through all lines of inquiry, the £6m investigation might yield no further clues. "There's lots of potential lines of inquiry," he said. "If we didn't think there were any potentially fruitful lines of inquiry, we wouldn't be where we are today; we would be saying there's nowhere to go with this investigation. "There are many potential fruitful lines of inquiry and the only way you get anywhere is to work through them all systematically. Within that may be the answer and the case may be potentially solvable.
"We may be able to work through potential lines of inquiry over a period of time with the Portuguese and all of them draw a blank, that can happen." Madeleine, who was then nearly four, went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal's Algarve on May 3 2007, as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.
Madeleine McCann detectives expect to make arrests 'within days', according to The Sun newspaper. It says a major police operation in the Portuguese resort where the then three-year-old disappeared 'will start within days'. At least four sites where will be searched with ground-penetrating radar. "Arrests and interviews of suspects are also expected in Praia da Luz over the next few weeks," the newspaper reports.
Officers from the Met's Operation Grange will work with colleagues from Portugal's Policia Judiciaria. The planned searches will be based on mobile phone data, intelligence and evidence from witnesses. They will take place near the beach and around the Ocean Club complex where Madeleine vanished aged three in May 2007. If the radar finds signs of soil disturbance, full excavations will be carried out.
British police have said they are seeking an intruder who sexually abused five girls between 2004 and 2006 in villas occupied by UK families in the Algarve. They will sit in as any potential suspects are interviewed by local officers. Forensic teams will use ground-penetrating radar to examine sites where earth has been disturbed. They will then bring in diggers. Detectives are said to be focussing on two areas near the apartment where the McCanns stayed. New aerial photographs are likely to be taken and officers will hunt for changes in vegetation, rock disturbance, odd depressions or piles of soil.