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Madeleine McCann: new E-fit appeal

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 06 August 2009

Private detectives have released a e-fit of a woman who it is believed may have some information about Madeleine McCann, reports Carl Dinnen.

It is claimed the woman in the e-fit was in Barcelona three days after the suspected abduction, and is reported to have been having a conversation about Madeleine that detectives want to verify.

The e-fit picture was released at a news conference held jointly by lead private investigator Dave Edgar and the spokesman for the McCann family, Clarence Mitchell. Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, did not attend the news conference.

Private detectives hired by Madeleine McCann's parents want to trace the "Victoria Beckham lookalike" with an Australian or New Zealand accent who was also heard speaking what seemed to be fluent Spanish.

The British men, who were part of a larger group, saw the woman in the early hours of May 7 2007 while on a night out in Barcelona's popular Port Olimpic Marina. The woman was well-dressed but appeared agitated and kept walking up and down outside the El Rey de la Gamba restaurant bar as if she was waiting to meet somebody, the witnesses recalled.

When one of the British men approached and spoke to her, she said something that the McCanns' team described as "potentially significant to the investigation".

After speaking to the witness, the woman went into a bar next door and sat down on her own. While in the bar she had a heated conversation with a local in what seemed to be fluent Spanish.

The e-fit released by the team investigating Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Mr Mitchell told Channel 4 News: "She is quite distinctive with the Australian accent and the language capabilities, and we hope that the international publicity that thankfully Madeleine's situation still manages to generate - we hope that this will lead to her being found and found soon."

Mr Edgar refused to give any details about this conversation, saying only: "She's a significant individual, I wouldn't describe her as a suspect."

Madeleine McCann disappeared from the apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, being rented by her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, on 3 May 2007. See a timeline of events since Madeline McCann's disappearance.

Since that date none of the many reported sightings of Madeleine, who would now be six years old, have produced any firm leads.

On 18 September of that year former BBC journalist Clarence Mitchell announced he was to become spokesman for the McCann family.

Former detective inspector Dave Edgar and a second retired British detective, Arthur Cowley, were hired by the McCanns to continue the search for their daughter after the official Portuguese investigation was shelved in July last year.

The two former policemen have visited a number of European countries in the pursuit of leads, including the possibility that a convicted British paedophile might know something about the child's disappearance.

Raymond Hewlett, who was jailed several times in the UK for sexually assaulting young girls, is said to have been staying an hour's drive from the McCanns' Portuguese holiday flat when Madeleine vanished. He is being treated for cancer in Germany and denies all involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Mr Mitchell said the investigators had not yet managed to talk to Hewlett but he remained a "person of interest".

Last week it emerged this week that Leicestershire Police have spent nearly £750,000 investigating Madeleine's disappearance.

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