It has been widely reported across Europe that Portuguese police have passed on details of a sighting of a young girl in Spain who was described as “bearing a physical resemblance” to that of missing Madeleine McCann.
The sighting, as first reported in the Spanish newspaper Diário Sur, was reported initially to Portuguese police investigating the case and then passed on to Spanish police.
The girl was seen by an eyewitness in Nerja, a resort town on the Spanish Costa del Sol, around 10 days ago with Spanish police choosing to keep the information out of the public domain until now.
Madeleine McCann would now be approaching her ninth birthday, however photos showing how she may look as an older child have been widely circulated in Europe, Northern Africa and also online.
Updated pictures of Madeleine were last released in 2010, shortly before her seventh birthday and these are used in the campaign to help find her run by her parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
Kate and Gerry McCann also made an appearance on the hugely popular Oprah show in America where the updated computer generated photo was aired to a worldwide audience. The appearance on this show and continued public interest in the case has kept the search for Madeleine continuing for more than four years now.
British officers investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been informed of the possible sighting in the town near Malaga while Spanish police from the Specialist and Violent Crime Unit (UDEV) are involved in following up the sighting.
The new lead in the case is thought to be linked to the fresh investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann by British officers from Scotland Yard.
A new team was allocated to look into the case last year after an open letter by Kate and Gerry McCann addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron was published.
The letter called for “…a joint INDEPENDENT, TRANSPARENT and COMPREHENSIVE review of ALL information held in relation to Madeleine’s disappearance. Thus far, there has been NO formal review of the material held by the police authorities – which is routine practice in most major unsolved crimes.”
As well as British officers investigating the case there is also a new team of Portuguese police officers from Porto looking into the details of the case.
Rogerio Alves, the Portuguese lawyer representing the McCanns said of the new lead: “Obviously the most plausible explanation for what’s happening is that information passed to or acquired by the Judicial Police in Porto has put them on the trail of something specific.”
Spokesman for the family, Clarence Mitchell told press: “They (Kate and Gerry McCann) are aware of this report and remain pleased that the police are coordinating and following up any leads where necessary.”