McCanns launch phoneline to find Madeleine

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LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) The parents of Madeleine McCann believe their daughter is still alive and have hired private detectives to man a 24-hour phoneline in a new bid to find her, their spokesman said today.

Kate and Gerry McCann, named by Portuguese police as formal suspects in the case, will give details of the Spanish-based phoneline during an interview on Spanish television.

''(They) will reiterate their firm belief that Madeleine is still alive,'' said spokesman Clarence Mitchell. ''And they will urge anyone with information, no matter how minor it may seem to them, to contact a newly established, confidential 24-hour phone number.'' Any information received will be shared with Portuguese police, he added.

''This is not a sign of losing faith. We want this to be a collaborative exercise with the police,'' he told GMTV earlier.

Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bedroom in an Algarve holiday resort on May 3 shortly before her fourth birthday.

Portuguese police named the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, as formal suspects in the case on September 7.

The couple say they are innocent and have launched a high-profile campaign to find their daughter, who they think was abducted.

Earlier this month, Portuguese authorities appointed a more senior police officer to head the investigation, amid criticism in Britain over slow progress.

REUTERS SG HT1700

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