Police searching for Madeleine McCann have told her parents that they have received a “credible call” from a man claiming to know what happened to their daughter following her abduction 36 days ago.

Kate and Gerry McCann were asked if they were prepared to speak to the man after he told police that he wanted to talk directly to Madeleine’s parents. The couple hoped the call was the breakthrough they have been praying for in the five weeks since their four-year-old daughter disappeared from her bedroom in an Algarve holiday apartment.

The call, which is believed to have been made to police in Spain, was traced to an unregistered pay-as-you-go phone which appeared to be from a country outside Europe. The nationality of the caller was not clear.

Information provided by the anonymous man yesterday afternoon convinced British police officers, who are liaising with the Portuguese-led inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance, that it was necessary to inform the McCanns immediately and to ask them to speak to the caller. However, 24 hours on, detectives have still been unable to re-establish contact with the caller.

It is not known what information in the call convinced detectives that the caller was credible enough to be put him contact with the McCanns.

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