Kate and Gerry McCann Hires British Cold-Case Detective Noel Hogan

Kate and Gerry McCann have hired a former Met Police officer to carry out a "cold case" review into Madeleine's disappearance.

Noel Hogan, a former CID detective, has spent hundreds of hours interviewing British witnesses in the case.

He has also gone through each witness's existing statements line by line. Among those he has interviewed include the socalled "Tapas seven" who were on holiday with the McCanns in Praia da Luz last May.

He is also thought to have taken Kate and Gerry McCann through their own statements in minute detail.

Mr Hogan spent eight years in the Met where he reached the rank of detective superintendent.

Since 1986 he has run his own detective agency in Surrey, Hogan International, which claims to have extensive experience dealing with missing-person cases.

Mr Hogan had been investigating one of the 7/7 suicide bombers before the terror attacks in 2005 after the man's bank became suspicious of his spending patterns.

When contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Hogan confirmed that he had spoken to many of the holidaymakers now back in Britain.

He said: "I have been reinterviewing a number of the witnesses that were out in Portugal at the time."

He added that his investigation would tie in with the enquiry being conducted by the Spanish detective agency Metodo 3 in Barcelona.

Since four-year- old Madeleine's disappearance, well-wishers have contributed over £1million to the fund to help find her.

The McCanns have spent much of this money on Metodo 3, which is being paid £50,000 a month to lead the search for their daughter.

However, the couple are understood to have become increasingly disillusioned with the firm, after its head detective Francisco Marco made a series of wild public statements.

Mr Marco claimed to know for a fact that the missing toddler was being kept in North Africa and would be home by Christmas.

But yesterday a source close to the family said that Kate and Gerry were keeping faith with Metodo 3 in spite of their concerns.

But the source confirmed that they have also authorised the employment of Mr Hogan to coordinate the UK end of the investigation.

The McCanns' official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, declined to comment.

Metodo 3 are currently trying to re-interview an Irish family who said they saw a man carrying away a child on the night Madeleine disappeared.

Martin Smith and his family-from Drogheda in Co. Louth, told police about the sighting - which is strikingly similar to one by a friend of the McCanns, Jane Tanner.

They described a barefoot child and a man wearing beige trousers walking towards the beach in Praia da Luz, about 400yards from the McCanns' holiday apartment.

However, they said that the man was definitely not official suspect Robert Murat, whom they had met before and would have recognised.

Mr Smith even flew back to Portugal to give evidence but said he had not been contacted by police since making a statement in May.

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