There is “no evidence” to support a theory missing girl Madeleine McCann is alive and living with her abductor in Portugal, according to a former leading UK newspaper editor.
Last week a retired UK detective claimed Maddie, who would now be 15 years old, was probably still somewhere in Portugal, and could even remain held captive in the small Algarve coastal town where she vanished more than 11 years ago.
Ex-cop David Edgar told British tabloid The Sun how he believed Maddie may not even be aware that she has been the subject of a massive worldwide search which began in May 2007.
But the recently retired editor of The Sunday Express, Martin Townsend, today described Edgar as being “wedded” to that theory since being hired by the McCanns in 2008.
Appearing on Channel Nine’s TODAY, Townsend was asked if there was any evidence which backed up Edgar’s belief. “No, none whatsoever,” he replied.
“It is a theory that David Edgar, this detective, has actually expounded before. He is absolutely wedded to it,” Townsend added.
Edgar, now aged 61, worked for Kate and Gerry McCann from 2008 until 2011, which is when London’s Metropolitan Police launched Operation Grange to review and investigate Madeleine’s mysterious disappearance.
Of all the British newspapers, it was The Express group, including Townsend’s The Sunday Express, which took the most aggressive stance on Madeleine’s case, and unproven theories about the possible involvement of her parents.
Mr and Mrs McCann have always steadfastly denied any knowledge of how their daughter vanished and disputed many of the stories and headlines which appeared in The Express newspaper group. In 2008 the couple from Rothley, Leicestershire successfully sued The Express group for £550,000.
Townsend told Channel Nine there was “some sort of logic” to Edgar’s theory, which arose from a potential line of inquiry a pedophile gang stole Maddie.
“The window of opportunity to abduct [Madeleine] was so small that the operation to take her from that holiday apartment must have been very well thought through,” Townsend said.
The one-time Portuguese lead detective on the case, Goncalo Amaral, wrote an explosive book in 2008, hypothesising an unproven theory that Maddie died in apartment 5A and her abduction had been simulated.
Several months after Maddie vanished Mr and Mrs McCann were declared arguidos, a kind of formal suspect, but that legal status was lifted when the case was shelved in 2008.
Townsend said Mr and Mrs McCann have come under “tremendous pressure” and the search for Madeleine had taken an enormous toll on the pair.
“They are still absolutely committed to finding their daughter,” Townsend said.
“They have never given up hope … both parents think she is in Portugal somewhere, and hopefully still alive.”
Operation Grange has cost British taxpayers more than $20 million.
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