BY TRACEY KANDOHLA
British police have refused to rule out the possibility that the decomposed body of a young girl found in Australia could be that of missing Madeleine McCann.
Met Police have contacted their Australian counterparts after skeletal remains were found by a motorist in a suitcase by the side of a remote highway near Wynarka in south Australia earlier this month.
Austalian police say the remains are those of a girl aged between two and four who died in 2007 and had fair hair.
Maddie was three years old when she vanished from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in 2007, prompting speculation the remains could be hers.
Although Australian police have dismissed rumours the body could be Maddie’s, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We cannot rule it out.”
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, leading the enquiry in Australia, said it was ‘pure speculation’ to suggest the bones could be Maddie’s.
The McCann’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “We continue to refuse to comment on speculative reports.”
He would not say if former GP Kate and heart doctor Gerry, both 47, of Rothley, Leics, had been told about the body.
Mr Mitchell added: “This is entirely a matter for the Australian Police to resolve. Commissioner Stevens comments speak for themselves.
“Kate and Gerry will certainly not comment on any speculation. The Yard always keep them informed when and if necessary.”
A source close to the couple said: “Kate and Gerry hope that if anything of substance is found linking the body in Australia and Madeleine they will be told straight away.
|Kate and Gerry McCann: They have made no official comment|
The child’s remains and a distinct quilted blanket were found in the suitcase. It is thought the body had been transported from place to place in the large bag.
A motorist found the case beside the Karoonda Highway in Wynarka, east of Adelaide.
Police hope the unusual blanket, depicting pumpkins, sunflowers, camels, dragonflies, stars and colourful musical notes could lead to a major breakthrough.
Several items of soiled clothing including a Dora the Explorer T-shirt were also found in the case.
Maddie was wearing pyjamas, a pink t-shirt with the character Eeyore and white floral-patterned trousers, when she disappeared.
At the time her parents were dining nearby with pals at a tapas restaurant.
Police investigating Maddie’s disappearance have investigated at least two Australian connections in the past.
In August 2009 private eyes hired by the McCanns released an e-fit of a “Victoria Beckham lookalike” they believed may have had information about Maddie.
An agitated woman, speaking with an Australian accent, asked a British tourist outside a bar in Barcelona’s Port Olimpic if he was about to deliver her “new daughter”.
The incident in neighbouring Spain happened just three after Maddie disappeared. Despite a worldwide appeal for information the witness was never found.
At the same time a millionaire Australian widow and her daughter were also linked to the case after their superyacht was spotted in the marina.
Horrified Rhonda Wyllie and Melissa Karlson had no involvement but offered to help cops if needed.
In December last year Met detectives quizzed a convicted British paedophile in a cell in Malta.
Roderick MacDonald, 77 – formerly known as Roderick Robinson – had been in the Algarve when Maddie vanished.
He had previously been jailed in Australia for indecently assaulting an eight-year-old child.