The high-profile case of missing British girl Madeleine McCann damaged relations between the U.K. and Portugal, where she went missing. According to a report obtained by Britain’s Sky News, there were so many UK agencies involved in the search that relations with the Portuguese police and people were damaged.
The competitive level of involvement may have had a long-term impact on the search for McCann, who went missing in 2007. Madeleine was born in 2003 and would now be 11-years-old. She disappeared from her bed during a holiday with her family in Portugal.
In the aftermath of the investigation for McCann, the involvement of competing British police chiefs had a long-lasting negative impact on the investigation, according to the author of a secret British federal government report. The report on Madeleine’s disappearance and the ensuing investigation was ordered in 2009.
The report’s author, Jim Gamble, told Sky News that the McCann report was delivered in 2010 and led to the investigation being re-opened.
Though Gamble would not directly discuss the contents of the report, The Telegraph reports he has said during the search, the large number of British police forces involved led to “frustration” and “resentment” and that the Portuguese felt the British police were on the side of the McCann family.
The British were also warned not to try and act as a “colonial power” during the search for young Madeleine. Yet Gamble said that the Portuguese police themselves were not on point during the McCann investigation and were even “haphazard.”
“There was chaos, and as it went on it was haphazard which was alien to the more structured police you would expect here in the UK,” Gamble told The Telegraph. “There was not a sense of order.”
He went on to describe “huge flaws” in the initial investigation.
“In the first instance the parents should be your Number One suspects,” said Gamble of the McCann’s. “In most cases in the first few golden hours as you collect evidence you can then rule them in or out.”
The report recommended that the U.K. setup some type of a national center for children who have gone missing, like Madeleine.
In the years since her disappearance, Madeleine’s parents have continued looking for her. The family, including Madeleine McCann’s mother, father and little brother and sister Sean and Amelie all live in England’s village of Rothley in Leicester.