Police ‘could abandon’ Madeleine McCann investigation after leads dry up and government funding runs out

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Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal in 2007 (Picture: PA)
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal in 2007 (Picture: PA)

Police could abandon the £12 million investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann because leads have dried up and government funding is running out, it has been reported.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Scotland Yard’s hunt for missing Madeleine is understood to have no “earth-shattering leads”.

It said detectives rarely visit the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, where the three-year-old disappeared in May 2007.

The police inquiry to find her, Operation Grange, was given £150,000 more funding last October to last until the end of this month.

It is thought the Metropolitan Police has applied for a further £300,000 to keep the investigation going until March 2020.

British police officers in 2014 clearing an area of wasteland during the search for evidence in the town of Praia da Luz (Picture: PA)
British police officers in 2014 clearing an area of wasteland during the search for evidence in the town of Praia da Luz (Picture: PA)

Police in Portugal halted their investigation in 2008 but Scotland Yard launched its own in 2011, although its inquiry was scaled back in 2015.

A source told the Mail on Sunday that the remaining few detectives on the case are not pursuing hard leads.

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“Most of what Operation Grange is doing is having things set up to knock down and rule out, rather than pursuing a particular fantastic lead that could unlock it all,” said the source.

“I’m not aware of any earth-shattering lead or breakthrough imminently.”

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann (Picture: PA)
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann (Picture: PA)

Operation Grange has cost £11.75 million, including more than £10 million on salaries, more than £400,000 on overtime and about £287,000 on travel costs, the Mail on Sunday said.

A spokesman for the Home Office told The Sun Online: “We have received and are considering a request from the Metropolitan Police Service to extend funding for Operation Grange until the end of March 2020.

The Apartment block in Praia Da Luz, Portugal where Madeleine McCann went missing (Picture: PA)
The Apartment block in Praia Da Luz, Portugal where Madeleine McCann went missing (Picture: PA)

“The Home Office maintains an ongoing dialogue with the MPS regarding funding for Operation Grange.

“The cost of Operation Grange – which to date is £11.75million – has been met through Special Grant funding.

“That funding is usually available to police forces when they face significant or exceptional costs.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann remains ongoing.”

A spokesman for Madeleine’s parents said: “Kate and Gerry remain incredibly grateful to the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office for the continued work they are doing.”

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