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Private detective sticks his neck out again

Maddie ‘back by Christmas’

Private detective sticks his neck out again

Francisco Marco, head of the team of private investigators hired by Kate and Gerry McCann to find their daughter, told the press today that he knows who took Madeleine and hopes to have her reunited with her family before Christmas.

Marco said a paedophile ring is holding the four-year-old girl. "We know who kidnapped her," he said. "We believe she is in an area not very far from the Iberian peninsula and north Africa. And we have a fairly certain idea of who she is with."

He refused to identify the kidnappers because his Barcelona-based agency, Metodo 3, was busy collating evidence to present to the Portuguese police with a view to an arrest.

This is not the first time the Metodo 3 boss has stuck his neck out with a prediction of an imminent conclusion to the long-running case. After he told a BBC Panorama team that the agency was "100 per cent sure Maddie is alive" and was "very, very close to finding those responsible", the McCanns' official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, told the media that Marco had got "carried away".

The agency claims to have around 35 investigators working on the case and is being paid £50,000 a month by the Find Madeleine Fund. But it has been constantly criticised by Portuguese police as "small fry" and "irrelevant".

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