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Police play down sighting: Madeleine's supposed abductors going around UK buying garden furniture

Police play down Madeleine sighting
By James Morton

DORSET Police are playing down an alleged sighting of missing Madeleine McCann in the county.

Alan Cameron, a retired civil servant, claims the toddler turned up at his house in Stratton, three miles north-west of Dorchester.

Sunday newspapers reported the child matching Madeleine's description arrived in the care of a Portuguese couple, who had come to buy some garden furniture advertised locally.

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: "We are grateful for the call but there is nothing at this time to suggest this is the missing girl.

"Enquiries are continuing to finalise this."

It is the first time a sighting of three-year-old Madeleine has been reported in Britain since her disappearance from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in May last year.
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Mr Cameron, 66, said he became suspicious when he saw a girl sitting in the couple's car.

He told the Sunday Express: "Straight away the couple struck me as odd. The woman said she was Italian but they were speaking fluent Portu-guese. The man told me they ran a language centre in Weymouth but then the woman hit him and told him to be quiet."

Mr Cameron, a former clerk with the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the girl spoke in English and appeared distressed as he let her use his bathroom.

He said: "The woman grabbed her and scooped her under her arm.

"She didn't allow the girl to walk and deliberately pushed the hood of her jersey over her head. She was sobbing. This little girl was unhappy and she was scared. I knew straight away it was a face I'd seen in the news. I'm convinced of it."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of the missing girl, remained optimistic over the sighting.

He said: "There is a lot about this sighting which suggests at the very least that we are talking about an abducted young girl.

"We are eagerly awaiting any outcome."

Daily Mail
24th February 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann face yet another potential disappointment after reports emerged last night that Madeleine McCann has been spotted in Britain.

Detectives are said to be launching a major inquiry into the claim that the missing four-year-old was seen by a man in Dorset.

Retired civil servant Alan Cameron alerted police after a Portuguese couple turned up at his home in the village of Stratton.

Mr Cameron became suspicious when he saw a girl matching Madeleine's description sitting in the couple's car.

It is the first time a sighting of Madeleine has been reported in Britain since she vanished while on holiday in Portugal last May.

Mr Cameron, 66, told the Sunday Express: "They knocked on my door and said they had come to buy the garden furniture I'd put on sale in a local ad."

"Straight away they struck me as odd. The woman said she was Italian but they were speaking fluent Portuguese.

"The man had a few days' growth on his face and was wearing filthy clothes. He told me they ran a language centre in Weymouth but then the woman hit him and told him to be quiet."

Mr Cameron, a former clerk with the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the girl spoke in English and appeared distressed.

Madeleine McCann: Spotted in Britain with a Portuguese couple

"I hear a voice, in perfect, clear English say 'I need to use the toilet'. I could see that she was blonde and four years old."

"I said of course and the woman grabbed her and scooped her under her arm. She didn't allow the girl to walk and deliberately pushed the hood of her jersey over her head. She was sobbing. This little girl was unhappy and she was scared.

"I knew straight away it was a face I'd seen in the news. I'm convinced of it."

A spokesman for Dorset police confirmed that inquiries into the sighting were ongoing.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said last night that the private detectives in charge of the investigation had been informed.

He said: "There's a lot about this sighting which suggests at the very least that we are talking about an abducted young girl.

"We are eagerly awaiting any outcome."

The new reports will cause more fresh heartache for the couple, coming hard on the heels of a suspected sighting of Madeleine in South of France earlier this month.

The McCanns urged French police to show them CCTV footage of a suspected sighting of daughter Madeleine in the South of France.

Although French police have ruled out the possibility it is the four-year-old her parents want to see the surveillance video from a French diner where a Dutch tourist reported seeing the missing British girl.

They refuse give up hope it is her until they have seen the footage and believe it would "put their minds at rest".

There have been several suspected sightings in Europe and North Africa of Madeleine, who vanished from her bed in the Portuguese holiday resort days before her fourth birthday.

Meanwhile detectives from the McCann's private investigators Metado 3 were back in Praia da Luz last night. They were seen studying aerial photos of the area.


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