The British investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been scaled down from 29 officers to four as her parents say they have not given up hope of seeing their daughter again.
Scotland Yard insisted the probe continued but with a “smaller team”, adding: “Officers investigating her disappearance have completed the huge task of bringing together and investigating the massive amount of information held by colleagues in Portugal, the United Kingdom investigation and the private investigators working on behalf of the McCann family.”
Madeleine went missing in May 2007, vanishing from her family’s holiday home in Praia da Luz while her parents ate at a nearby restaurant.
Costs of the ensuing investigations have reached £10 million and after a Home Office review of the case started four years ago.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said investigators are now following a “small number of focused lines of inquiry” that allow them to cut stuff from the Government-funded team.
“Operation Grange is working to support the Portuguese investigation and this work continues,” he added.
“While there remain lines of inquiry to follow, the vast majority of the work by Operation Grange has been completed.”
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, thanked the investigators and said they remain hopeful that their daughter will still be found.
“We are reassured that the investigation to find Madeleine has been significantly progressed and the MPS has a much clearer picture of the events in Praia da Luz leading up to Madeleine’s abduction in 2007,” they said in a joint statement.
“Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced.
“We would also like to thank the Home Office for continuing to support the investigation.
“Whilst we do not know what happened to Madeleine, we remain hopeful that she may still be found given the ongoing lines of enquiry.”
Officers had reviewed more than 40,000 documents from law enforcement agencies in Britain and abroad, as well as private investigators, by 2012 in efforts to find new leads.
The new investigation then launched, taking 1,338 statements and collecting 1,027 exhibits to identify 560 lines of enquiry, which sparked more than thirty international requests.
No suspects for Madeleine’s abduction have been charged but the Met said 60 “persons of interest” had been investigated, 650 sex offenders considered and 8,685 potential sightings of the girl investigated.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said: “The Met investigation has been painstaking and thorough and has for the first time brought together in one place what was disparate information across the world.
“This work has enabled us to better understand events in Praia da Luz the night Madeleine McCann went missing and ensure every possible measure is being taken to find out what happened to her.
“We still have very definite lines to pursue which is why we are keeping a dedicated team of officers working on the case. We have given this assurance to Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.
“The Portuguese police remain the lead investigators and our team will continue to support their inquiry… I know they remain fully committed to investigating Madeleine’s disappearance.”
By Lizzie Dearden