Doubts are cast on whether Madeleine McCann probe will continue
Kate McCann’s agony as she spends her 12th Mother’s Day without missing daughter Madeleine amid claim £12m probe into her disappearance is at risk of being shelved
- Kate McCann is spending her 12th Mother’s Day without daughter Madeleine
- Funding for £12m Met Police probe into her disappearance runs out today
- And Home Office has not made a decision about more funding being granted
Kate McCann is spending her 12th Mother’s Day without missing daughter Madeleine as doubt is cast on whether police investigation to find the youngster will continue after today.
The heartbroken mother, who is today expected to be attending a special church service with husband Gerry and their twins, ‘has no idea’ whether £12m probe, Operation Grange will be shelved.
Last October £150,000 Home Office funding was given to the operation to allow its four detectives to work on the investigation until today, the end of the tax year.
The Metropolitan Police is thought to have applied for a further £300,000 funding to keep the investigation running until March 2020 – but no decision has been made on whether it will be awarded.
Kate McCann is spending her 12th Mother’s Day without missing daughter Madeleine as doubt is cast on whether police investigation to find the youngster will continue after today
The Home Office confirmed it had received a request to extend funding for Operation Grange and was in talks with the Met.
A Home Office spokesperson 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 Home Office maintains an ongoing dialogue with the MPS regarding funding for Operation Grange.’
He said the cost of Operation Grange has been met through Special Grant funding.
He added: ‘That funding is usually available to police forces when they face significant or exceptional costs.’
Madeleine was three when she vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve as her parents, Gerry and Kate, dined with friends at a nearby restaurant.
Portuguese police shelved their investigation in 2008 but Scotland Yard launched its own inquiry in 2011.
Madeleine McCann disappeared from a Portuguese resort in May 2007
Scotland Yard’s hunt for Madeleine is understood to have no ‘earth-shattering leads’
A Scotland Yard spokesperson said ‘the work on Operation Grange in ongoing’ adding: ‘It is a very high profile investigation’ and closing it would be a ‘massive decision’.
He said ‘It is being kept open for a reason because there is still important work to do and focused lines of inquiry to pursue. It has not reached a conclusion.’
The spokesman would not confirm if funding has been granted for the investigation which is run from a Met Police branch station in Putney, South West London.
A well-placed source said the remaining handful of detectives have been carrying out ‘grunt work’ which includes tracking down and eliminating known sex offenders and finding possible witnesses rather than pursuing hard leads.
‘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,’ the source said. ‘I’m not aware of any earth-shattering lead or breakthrough imminently.’
Operation Grange has so far cost £11.75 million, including more than £10 million on salaries, over £440,000 on overtime and about £287,000 on travel costs. The inquiry is led by Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Wall. Her team comprises a detective sergeant and three detective constables
A McCann family spokesperson said: ‘If and when the Met Police investigation comes to an end, Kate and Gerry remain incredibly grateful for all the work that has been carried out over the past years.
‘They know it can’t go on forever. They appreciate everything the authorities have done to try and get a resolution after all this time.’
He added that the McCanns would consider using cash from the Find Maddie Fund, which currently stands at £1million, to fund private investigators if police funding is not granted.
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The McCanns are believed to be attending the Mother’s Day service at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where traditionally children hand their mothers a symbolic spring flower after the final hymn is sung.
A friend of the family said: ‘It’s even more poignant this year because she doesn’t yet know if the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance will carry on or be shelved.’
Operation Grange has so far cost £11.75 million, including more than £10 million on salaries, over £440,000 on overtime and about £287,000 on travel costs. At its height it had 31 detectives working for it.
The inquiry is led by Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Wall. Her team comprises a detective sergeant and three detective constables.
Much of the work on the operation is thought to take place in London.
In 2017-18 detectives made only two flights to Portugal – involving five return flights costing £1,240.
They usually stay at the upmarket Estrela da Luz hotel but a bar manager there said: ‘I haven’t seen any police here for nearly a year, probably last May.’
Sources say that the focus of the investigation has shifted to Eastern Europe where detectives believe she could have been involve in a child trafficking investigation.
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