A diplomatic war is looming between Britain and Portugal over the probe into Madeleine McCann's disappearance.
Portuguese police are fuming after a Home Office official said UK officers were taking "all possible steps" to further the inquiry, the Daily Star Sunday can reveal.
The assurance came in a letter to a member of the public, though police here have always said they only co-ordinate and complete inquiries for Portuguese investigators - who have shelved the case.
One Portuguese officer told us: "There has been a suspicion for a long while that British police are going behind our backs. We need explanations."
A government source said: "There have been many sensitive issues surrounding the case. Relations have, at times, been strained between the two countries and this will not help."
British inquiries have been handled by police in Leicestershire, the home of Maddie's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.
A force spokesman said: "Any deployment of officers to Portugal to work on the inquiry from the UK would have to be requested and sanctioned by the Portuguese authorities."
in: Daily Star Sunday, 21.02.2010, paper edition only - courtesy of McCannFiles