Timeline of events since Madeleine McCann disappeared


As searches begin in and around a reservoir in Portugal, here is a timeline of the main events since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.


– May 3: Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, leave their children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal while they dine with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.

Nothing is amiss when Mr McCann checks on the youngsters just after 9pm, but when his wife goes back at about 10pm she finds Madeleine missing.

Madeleine McCann anniversary
A pink balloon outside apartment 5A on Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva in Praia Da Luz, Portugal, where Madeline McCann went missing in 2007 (Steve Parsons/PA)

– May 14: Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese property developer Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an “arguido”, or formal suspect, but this is later withdrawn.

– August 11: Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she could be dead.

– September 7: During questioning of Mr and Mrs McCann, detectives make them both “arguidos” in their daughter’s disappearance.

– September 9: The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.


– July 21: The Portuguese authorities shelve their investigation and lift the “arguido” status of the McCanns and Robert Murat.

Missing Madeleine McCann
Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann (Joe Giddens/PA)

– May 12: Mrs McCann publishes a book about her daughter’s disappearance, on Madeleine’s eighth birthday.

Scotland Yard launches a review of the case after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May, supported by then-prime minister David Cameron.


– April 25: Scotland Yard detectives say they believe Madeleine could still be alive, release an age-progression picture of how she might look as a nine-year-old, and call on the Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, but Portuguese police say they have found no new material.


– July 4: Scotland Yard confirms it has launched its own investigation, Operation Grange, into Madeleine’s disappearance two years into a review of the case. It has “genuinely new” lines of inquiry and has identified 38 people of interest, including 12 Britons.

– October 24: Portuguese police confirm that a review of their original investigation has uncovered new lines of inquiry, and they reopen the case.

Madeleine McCann wearing a football top.
Madeleine was three when she vanished while on holiday with her parents and younger siblings. (PA)

– January 29: British detectives fly to Portugal amid claims they are planning to make arrests.

– June 3: Sniffer dogs and specialist teams are used to search an area of scrubland close to where Madeleine went missing.

– December 12: Detectives begin questioning 11 people who it is thought may have information on the case.


– September 16: The Government discloses that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine has cost more than £10 million.

– October 28: Scotland Yard cuts the number of officers working on the inquiry from 29 to four.


– April 30: The McCanns prepare to mark 10 years since their daughter’s disappearance with a BBC interview in which they vow to do “whatever it takes for as long as it takes” to find her.

Kate and Gerry McCann in 2012 hold an image of what Madeline might look like as an older girl
Kate and Gerry McCann in 2012 holding an image of what Madeline might look like as an older girl (John Stillwell/PA)

– May 3: Local media reports say Portuguese detectives are investigating a foreign paedophile as a suspect in the abduction of Madeleine.


– June 3: Police reveal that a 43-year-old German prisoner, later named as Christian Brueckner, has been identified as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

– June 4: Scotland Yard’s Operation Grange, which had received £12.3 million in funding up to April 2020, is still a missing person inquiry as detectives have no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.


– May 4: Kate and Gerry McCann post a statement on the official Find Madeleine campaign website saying they still cling to the hope of seeing their daughter again as they prepare to mark her 18th birthday on May 12.

Madeleine McCann anniversary
Kate and Gerry McCann say that they still cling to the hope of seeing Madeleine again (Joe Giddens/PA)

– April 21: Christian Brueckner is made an “arguido”, a formal suspect, by Portuguese authorities.

– May 3: The McCann family say it is “essential” they learn the truth of what happened to their daughter on the 15th anniversary of her disappearance.

– October 11: Brueckner, now 45, is charged with three counts of rape and two charges of child sex abuse, unrelated to Madeleine’s disappearance.


– May 3: Kate and Gerry McCann mark the 16th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance by saying she is “still very much missed” and that they “await a breakthrough”.

– May 22: An area near the Barragem do Arade reservoir, about 30 miles from Praia da Luz, is sealed off as police prepare to start searching on May 23.

– May 23: Searches begin with police divers in the water, and teams including officers with sniffer dogs and rakes and metal poles seen working on the banks. Media and onlookers are kept a mile away from the main search area and a no fly zone is imposed over the water.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here