|Madeleine McCann at three years of age - 2007|
The process is being bogged down because of major changes in the way justice is delivered.
In an attempt to improve the service (that's what governments always say when they are slashing jobs), 20 courts have closed creating a huge backlog of cases and a nightmare for administrators.
Trials are being held up as vast amounts of documents are moved all over the country in a bid to streamline the service (that's the other thing they say). So government lawyers are giving priority to running trials and urgent cases.
A legal official in Portugal said: “The system is a mess, which is causing a huge political row between the right-of-centre government and the socialist opposition.
“This all means that Maddie is taking a low priority because all the effort is going on keeping the courts running. There is also a new prosecutor in Portimao on the Algarve who is having to be fully briefed on scores of cases, including Madeleine’s, and that all takes time.
“There are delays but people are working extra hours to try to get everything moving again.”
It is understood that the Yard detectives have requested to do further work on the background of three arguidos, or suspects, and several other people they believe could have important information.
|Yard detectives searching in Portugal|
earlier this summer, & finding nothing
They are now anxiously awaiting the formal legal response to their request before they can plan their next moves.
The hold-up is the latest problem to affect the work to find the youngster who, then aged three, vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve in May 2007.
Last week details emerged about a Home Office report which showed British police forces helping with the search for Madeleine hampered the Portuguese investigation.
So many UK agencies were keen to be seen to be helping, it created a “sense of chaos and competition”.
That damaged relations with Portuguese police and had a long-term negative effect, according to the unpublished findings of Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Commissioned by former home secretary Alan Johnson in 2009, the report was delivered the following year and led to the Met Police reopening the investigation into the disappearance.
The Home Office, which would not release the report under Freedom of Information laws, declined to comment.
|Kate and Gerry were dining with friends across the pool from their suite|
when Madeleine was taken
A MYSTERY prowler was stalking the same holiday apartments where Madeleine McCann was abducted in the weeks running up to her disappearance, a new book claims.
Author Anthony Summers alleges that a bogus charity collector was in the area just hours before the youngster disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007.
But the intruder fled when he was caught in a villa close to the apartment from where Madeleine, who was nearly four, vanished some seven years ago.
Mr Summers told how one British mother answered her door to the stranger asking for donations to an orphanage.
The author said: “She soon realised he wasn’t really looking at her, but was staring intently at her young daughter of three or four who was standing at her side, holding on to her skirt.
“She later saw that man watching her place during the afternoon. The next day she went upstairs to fetch something for a moment and as she started to come downstairs she saw what she thinks was the same man in the room where her child was and as soon as she started to come into the room he scampered.”
Mr Summers said the unnamed woman was convinced the man intended to take her daughter and has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.
With co-author Robbyn Swan, Mr Summers recounts the incident in his new book Looking For Madeleine, which is published next week.
The authors spent two years studying Portuguese police files and British documents for what they claim is the first objective book on the Madeleine case.
However, they did not interview Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
But the authors claim that the McCanns’ holiday apartment, number 5a at the Ocean Club complex, was being watched in the days leading up to Madeleine’s disappearance.
Ms Swan told Sky News: “Two separate witnesses apparently saw a man, whom both described as very ugly or with a spotty or pimply face, staring fixedly at apartment 5a. They both described him being in the same position in the street.
|Could this be the 'ugly man'?|
“The man was going out of an adjacent gate, closing the gate repeatedly to see if it was creaky. He seemed to be looking around and generally acting very peculiarly before leaving.”
Scotland Yard detectives launched Operation Grange, an investigative review into Madeleine’s disappearance, in May 2011 after parents Gerry, 45, and Kate, 46, of Rothley, Leicester, appealed directly to Prime Minister David Cameron for help. A full blown investigation was then launched after this.
Around 40 detectives and civilian staff are currently dedicated to the inquiry which has so far cost an estimated £6 million.
Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe recently said: “The investigation is still ongoing and we will not be reducing the team.”
It is understood that a mystery sexual predator and three burglary suspects are the focus of the current Scotland Yard investigation.
But the new book also reveals how another intruder got into the bed of a young girl in the nearby resort of Carvoeiro three years earlier.
Co-author Ms Swan said the man fled after the girl and her sister woke up and asked if he was their daddy or uncle.
“What they noticed about this man was that he was wearing what seemed to be a surgical mask and he had wound laundry around his feet, seemingly to keep from making prints or leaving marks,” Ms Swan said.
“He disappeared without interfering with the two girls.” Thank God!
|Kate and Gerry McCann and Madeleine|
It must drive them near crazy sometimes to think about the possibilities of what might have happened to her. If she is still alive, hopefully, she was sold into adoption to a decent family. Otherwise, she could be trapped into sexual slavery - hooked on heroin, or even living as a prisoner in a cave.
Wherever she is, she needs our prayers. If she's not alive, then we should pray for closure.