A team of Scotland Yard investigators appointed to investigate the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann was in Portugal this week to exchange information with its Portuguese counterparts at the Polícia Judiciária (PJ).
The British inspectors arrived in Oporto on Monday where they reportedly discussed the current status of the investigation.
Operation Grange, the name of the investigative review into the case, commenced in May 2011, but only started in Portugal last winter.
At the time, it was decided the Oporto-branch of the PJ, led by Helena Monteiro, would be the best option to liaise with Scotland Yard.
Previously, the case had been handed to the PJ in Portimão, then in Faro, and later in Lisbon.
In the UK, a murder team within the Homicide and Serious Crime Command was tasked to conduct the review and is led by Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood. Estimates are the review has cost British taxpayers close to 2.5 million euros.
Work of the team involves close collaboration with a senior investigating officer from the PJ and detectives have been to Portugal several times.
Throughout the course of the review officers have been in close contact with the McCann family who have been assigned a Family Liaison Officer.
The review team say they are in a unique position in that their task is to compile and review material from three separate strands - the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by UK law enforcement agencies, and the work of private investigators/agencies.
Officers have been going through that material which they believe amounts to around 40,000 pieces of information equating to approximately 100,000 pages.
The objective of the review team is to work with the Portuguese authorities with a view to having the case, which has remained closed since 2008, re-opened in due course, Scotland Yard said.
“From the outset we have approached this review with a completely open mind, placing Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do. We are working on the basis of two possibilities here. One is that Madeleine is still alive; and the second that she is sadly dead”, DCI Andy Redwood said last year.
Meanwhile, the defamation case the McCann family launched against former PJ inspector Gonçalo Amaral was this week reportedly suspended by a Lisbon court.
Kate and Gerry McCann have sued Amaral for 1.2 million euros in damages, but reports by the Lusa News Agency stated this week the case has been put on hold due to an apparent attempt by the McCanns to reach an out-of-court settlement.
The case centres around the publication of a best-selling book by Amaral, The Truth of the Lie, which was later transformed into a television documentary shown on national television.
In a related story, it was reported this week that more than 1.2 million euros was made from Kate McCann’s book about her missing daughter.
“Income from the book has significantly improved the position”, of the funds’ accounts, its directors said this week, who added: “This will continue as a result of publication in other countries and the release of the paperback.”
Madeleine’s Fund climbed to around 2.5 million euros in the immediate months after her disappearance in May 2007, but in 2009, Gerry McCann told The Portugal News, “We are in danger of running out of money by the end of the year.”
While the Fund has admitted it has scaled back following UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s creation of Operation Grange, it revealed that it still pays for “a 24-hour, 7 day a week telephone line to receive and capture information from around the world which may assist the investigation while also supporting a small investigation team, including a Portuguese speaker to help with the above and with campaign activities.”
* Story updated 28 January at 11:02