MADELEINE McCann’s parents fear their daughter’s kidnapper may go into hiding after claims cops are closing in on a suspect, The Sun can reveal.
The three-year-old vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in 2007 – and despite millions being spent on the case, her disappearance remains a mystery.
But Maddie’s family have hit out at reports that German child killer Martin Ney was a new “person of interest” – claims which have since been branded false in the Portuguese press.
While it appears that the convicted triple-murderer Ney is not being investigated – it is still not clear if police are actually closing in another suspect.
Brian Kennedy, Maddie’s great uncle, said the family are upset that names of alleged suspects have been publicly revealed saying it is “not very helpful”.
Speaking with The Sun Online, he said: "If police start broadcasting names of suspects it will only send them running.”
The retired head master said such revelations could enable the suspect time to “get away.”
He added: “That’s the thing… let people know there is a potential new lead and then let that person of interest get away. It’s very frustrating.”
If police start broadcasting names of suspects it will only send them running
Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral, who led the initial bungled probe into the case, sparked claims Hamburg-born Ney was the new suspect.
Ney, dubbed the “masked man”, sometimes entered the apartments or tents of his victims wearing a mask.
The child killer resembles a man seen acting suspiciously outside Maddie’s apartment by tourist Carole Tranmer on the day the child was snatched.
But leading Portuguese tabloid Correio da Manha claimed that Ney, who has been jailed for life, was not the new focus of detectives.
In total, there are 13 suspects who cops are probing, according to reports.
They were all either seen acting suspiciously in Praia da Luz or are suspected paedophiles who were in Portugal at the time of the disappearance, it has been reported.
Brian says that Maddie’s family “still had hope even after all these years."
The child’s great uncle, who lives in the same village as the McCanns in Rothley, Leics, said they remain “very grateful” that the overstretched Met Police was continuing the search.
He said: "We’re just very grateful that police are still searching. It gives us hope.”
Brian pointed out renewed funding for Operation Grange – yet to be formally approved by the Home Office – comes from a special “contingency fund” and not from Scotland Yard’s resources.
FAMILY STILL HAVE HOPE
On Friday he joined family, friends and well-wishers to remember Maddie during a poignant prayer service to mark the 12th anniversary of her disappearance.
Maddie’s heart doctor dad Gerry, 50, missed the milestone event at Rothley Baptist Church due to work commitments in Italy.
After the service, Brian said: "We are all very grateful to those who turned out this evening in less than pleasant conditions.
“It means a lot to us that people are still willing to support us. It was a larger number than anticipated.
“There are a lot of people, it’s very much a local thing and not just national.
“I personally appreciate all the support after such a long time and that people are still willing to come to this gathering after 12 years and be with us.
“That's what matters the most and the lantern for Madeleine is burning away."
Brian, the brother of Kate’s mum Susan Healy, told how Maddie’s parents still visit Praia da Luz but had been "too busy” recently to return.
He added: “They are such a busy family and Gerry’s work has international connections.
“He’s at a business conference in Milan and that's why he can’t be here tonight.”
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