* They didn't have a Portuguese Search to begin with!
** The process was made public on the 21st of July; on the 12 of October Gerry wrote in his blog: "Getting the files translated accurately is a time consuming and expensive process but essential to our search."
*** Speed Reading Courses available - contact the Portuguese prosecutor who read the whole process in 20 days
By Tom Pegden
The Parents of Madeleine McCann have scaled down the Portuguese search * for their daughter to concentrate on sifting through the official police files into the disappearance.
The couple are continuing to work with a small investigative team - including members with policing experience - to work through the pages of files handed over to them earlier this year. **
SEARCH FOR MADELEINE - 588 DAYS
The search of data accumulated by Portuguese Police during their investigation has been under way since August and is expected to last until at least the New Year, their official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said.
It had been thought they would have finished scouring the records by Christmas.
Mr. Mitchell said Kate and Gerry - who live with their twin children Sean and Amelie in Rothley - were still in touch with two detective agencies they had worked with in the past.
Metodo 3, in Barcelona, and Oakley International in the USA, are no longer contracted to the family but he said the McCanns were ready to call them in if and when any new leads appeared.
Last month, the McCanns said they were personally overseeing the job of combing through the 17 volumes of official documents.
Today Mr Mitchell said, "They are still going through the files." ***
"I imagine that will take at least until January or February."
"They are going through them as best they can, although the files are not revealing a great dea, which is depressing in a way.
"But they are still ploughing on and hope they weill have something positive by the end, to take the search on.
"Metodo 3's contract finished months ago, but it is still available if we need work done on the ground in Spain.
"We took out a contract with Oakley International which lasted six months.
"It did a lot of good work ruling stuff out, but is not under contract at present.
"Now, the operation has effectively been taken in-house and there is a small team of people supporting Kate and Gerry - some of them with previous policing experience."
Mr Mitchell said Christmas would be a private affair for the McCanns this year.
There are, however, plans to issue a worldwide television appeal to jog people's minds over the festive season.
An as yet unnamed sports person or celebrity is understood to be lined up for the appeal.
Mr Mitchell said, "We don't know what the appeal is going to look like yet and we're not going to release it until close to Christmas. [10 Days Mitchell]
"Christmas for the family will be private."
Source: Leicester Mercury 15th Dec.2008 paper edition only
Extras by JM and Astro