Portuguese prosecutors have applied for Gerry McCann’s laptop and his wife’s personal diary to be handed over to the authorities investigating their daughter’s disappearance, sources have revealed.
Detectives in the Algarve are particularly keen to track emails sent by Mr McCann, a cardiologist, from the computer he used while in Portugal to keep an almost daily blog on the campaign to find Madeleine.
An urgent application for access to the personal artefacts was made by public prosecutor Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses to a judge in Portimao yesterday.Police sources said criminal instructing judge Pedro Miguel dos Anjos Frias is drawing up papers approving the request which are expected to be passed to Leicestershire police tommorrow.
Mr McCann took his laptop back to the UK at the weekend and it is understood it will be analysed by officers in the UK.
“The police want Gerry’s laptop,” a Portuguese source said.
“They want to know what kind of emails Gerry exchanged with certain people.
“It is more about Gerry than Kate. They want the computer and a lot of other things, letters and some personal objects.
“They also want Kate’s diary but the computer is the main thing.”
During his travels around Europe, north Africa and the US, Mr McCann was regularly seen using his white apple mac.
His last entry on the Find Madeleine site was made on September 10, where he described being named as suspects in his daughter’s disappearance as “unbelievably stressful and emotionally draining"
The website has received well over 100 million hits since she disappeared in Praia da Luz on May 3.
Portuguese police are keen to use the diary to look into the character of Mrs McCann, to see if her innermost thoughts might reveal if an apparently devoted mother might have killed her daughter.
Mrs McCann kept a diary throughout her time in Portugal, writing it as the couple travelled round Europe on private jets and commercial aircraft.
The part-time GP’s large sprawling handwriting covered line after line and page after page in her ringbound notepad.
It was not entirely clear where Mrs McCann’s diary actually was, with reports of it both in the UK and Portugal.
The couple have been advised by their lawyers that any case against them will be seriously weakened by the fact that there is no body.
A family friend said: “The legitimate question to ask Portuguese police is: ‘Where is the body?’ Where’s the evidence that Madeleine is dead? We have got no idea.”
Speculation that Madeleine’s favourite toy Cuddle Cat, which has never left Mrs McCann’s side, would also be the subject of the application by the Portuguese authorities, sparked anger from relatives.
Mr McCann’s sister Philomena said removing the precious toy would be a “disgrace” and added: “It would be extremely distressing for Kate because she has seen it as a symbol of her daughter since she went missing.”
The official request for personal items came as the McCanns were seen emerging from their house in Rothley, Leicestershire, for the first time since arriving home.
They took two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the local park, but the strain of being under such scrutiny has finally started to show.
Friends told how Mr McCann arrived back in the UK upbeat and bullish but was gradually losing confidence as the pressure upon the couple continued.
Mr Frias, who could take up to a week to digest the lengthy file has 10 days in which to approve or refuse these requests.
The dossier relies heavily on forensic results which police claim indicate Madeleine’s DNA was found in the McCann’s hire car 25 days after she went missing.
Hair and bodily fluids belonging to the four-year-old were allegedly found in the boot of the car, in the spare wheel well in the silver Renault Scenic.
A family friend said the McCanns were considering commissioning independent forensic tests on the car and are keeping in it a safe place.
Portuguese police are working on the theory that Mrs McCann may have accidentally killed her daughter while her husband helped cover it up.
The couple are currently formal suspects, or arguidos, and although there are no bail conditions, Portugal’s attorney general Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro indicated their status might change.
Mr Monteiro, who voiced his “total trust” in the Portuguese police, said the case was passed on to a judge to allow possible further police activity to take place.
He has announced the appointment of a second public prosecutor, Luis Bilro Verao, who will oversee the work of Mr Meneses.
As the case passed through the legal hoops, the police were on standby to carry out further searches in Praia da Luz.
Attention has turned towards the Nossa Senhora da Luz church where there was considerable building work around the time Madeleine disappeared.
Anglican vicar for the Algarve, Father Haynes Hubbard said he had not heard of any searches of the church, but welcomed police inside.
“I hope they search it, I hope they search it very well, and maybe they can find something,” he said.
Father Hubbard said he hoped detectives would continue looking for Madeleine because “there’s a little girl out there who just wants to come home”.
It also emerged that it was possible that several friends of the McCanns who were with them the night Madeleine disappeared would be questioned again over the next few days and weeks.
Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias named Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner as one of the couples the police may want to quiz for a second time.
Jane, a 36-year-old mother-of-two from Exeter, is the woman who claims to have seen a man walking away from the McCanns’ holiday apartment with a child wrapped in a blanket the night Madeleine went missing.
Dr Russell O’Brien, 36, who works in the Peninsula Medical School at the University of Plymouth’s Exeter campus, last month defended himself against claims in the Portuguese press that he was about to be named as a suspect.
He said the allegations were “completely untrue and extremely hurtful”.