Last updated at 21:10 04 November 2007
Four close friends of Kate and Gerry McCann fear they could be named as official suspects in the hunt for Madeleine, it has been revealed.
The four - all part of the so-called Tapas Nine who dined with the McCanns on the night Madeleine vanished - have consulted lawyers over mounting speculation they could be named as arguidos, or official suspects.
Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, and their friends Dr David Payne and Matthew Oldfield have all been warned they could be made suspects within days, the Sunday Express claimed. Police have been analysing a series of alleged contradictions in the statements the group of friends gave to police just hours after Madeleine disappeared.
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Interview: (clockwise from top left) Fiona Payne, Jane Tanner, Russell O' Brien, Rachael Oldfield
Read more...The entire group has always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. They are barred by strict Portuguese secrecy laws from speaking about the events of May 3 but last week issued a statement denying they had a "pact of silence" or that they were covering up a secret.
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But a friend of the group said they realised there was a "possibility" they could be made arguidos.
He said: "There has always been the possibility that some or all of the friends from the tapas restaurant may be made arguidos if they were reinterviewed by police.
"However, it is possible but unlikely because the police have not made any moves to start that process and were last week banned from doing so unless they find more significant evidence.
"All of those who have given statements are absolutely confident about what they said because it is the truth.
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Madeleine: A smile to the camera as she plays on a slide"A full timeline has been prepared detailing what happened on May 3, who went where at what time, in case their versions of events were ever formally questioned, which seems increasingly unlikely."
Dr Payne, 41, a cardiovascular researcher from Leicestershire, was the last person outside the McCann family to see Madeleine alive. He went to the family's apartment at 6.30pm on May 3 and said he saw Mrs McCann there with all three of her children, while Mr McCann played tennis.
Mr Oldfield, 37, from South West London, was the last of the group to go to the apartment to check on the children, about 30 minutes before the alarm was raised that Madeleine was missing. He told police he saw the two-year-old twins but that her bed was out of his line of sight.
Ms Tanner, 37, of Exeter, told police she saw a man carrying a child away from the McCanns' apartment at about 9.15pm. But police have pointed to contradictions in her statements, and to the fact that another witness said he was outside the apartment at the same time but did not see Ms Tanner or the mystery man.
Meanwhile Dr O'Brien, 36, was away from the group for up to 45 minutes while he tended to his own child, who was being sick in his apartment.
He told police he had changed her bedlinen, but staff at the Ocean Club were said to have denied that any change of sheets was requested.
Contradictions in the statements and timings given by the group have led to suggestions in the Portuguese press that they could have been involved in Madeleine's disappearance.
Criminologist Barra da Costa told the Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas that he believed one way to crack the case would be to offer immunity from prosecution to anyone involved as an accomplice.
He said: "Extreme measures should be taken to recover Madeleine. One of those measures would be to grant immunity to any possible accomplice."
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-491638/Four-Tapas-Nine-named-suspects-Portuguese-police.html#ixzz13pJxIk62