Spokesperson: 'Ludicrous' to Name McCanns Suspects
LONDON – The family of Madeleine McCann called Tuesday for an end to the rampant speculation surrounding the case and said the focus should return to the search for the missing girl.
Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said any suggestion Kate and Gerry McCann had harmed their daughter was "as ludicrous as it is nonsensical."
"Indeed, it would be laughable if it wasn't so serious," said Mitchell, standing beside the couple in the driveway of their home in Rothley, central England.
He said there were "entirely innocent explanations for anything the police may have found during their inquiries."
Portuguese police have named Kate and Gerry McCann, both doctors, as suspects in their daughter's May 3 disappearance from a resort in the southern Algarve region.
The couple strongly deny any involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine, who was 3 when she went missing. They have led a high-profile international campaign to find her.
Mitchell said he was prevented by Portuguese law from going into detail about the case, but stressed the McCanns would continue to cooperate with Portuguese authorities.
Portuguese media have reported that detectives in the country wanted to interview the McCanns again. But Mitchell said officials had made no request to speak to the couple, who returned to England on Sept. 9 with their 2-year-old twins.
"The focus must now move away from the rampant, unfounded and inaccurate speculation of recent days to return to the child at the very center of this: Madeleine," he said. "The task is simply to find her. Kate and Gerry are again urging everyone to keep looking as they firmly believe she could still be alive."
Mitchell, a former government official appointed to speak for the McCanns in the weeks after Madeleine's disappearance, resigned from his government job this week to take up a full-time post as their spokesman.
In Portugal, a judicial oversight body said Tuesday it was taking charge of issuing public information about the case, but had no immediate plans to release new details.
The Superior Council of Magistrates, which oversees the work of judges, said in a statement that at the request of the judge supervising the investigation and due to the "inadequacies" of the judicial system in dealing with media inquiries, it would provide information it deemed necessary. It said, however, that further disclosures "are not currently warranted."
Authorities have released little information about their progress in the case because of Portugal's secrecy laws around ongoing investigations.
Previously, police handled media inquiries, but after detectives handed their case file to the judge last week, they said they would no longer comment.
The judge could decide this week what steps should be taken next in the case.
Forensic tests conducted at a government laboratory in Britain found evidence indicating that DNA from Madeleine was in the trunk of a rental car the parents used after her disappearance.
However, Portugal's national police chief, Alipio Ribeiro, said last week that the forensic tests on the car were not conclusive, and that he expected the investigation to continue.