Madeleine Search: McCanns Welcome New Police Appeal ; Family Insists Sighting of a Man Seen 'With Child in His Arms' on the Night of the Four-Year-Old's Abduction Is 'Significant and Relevant'

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The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann welcomed a fresh police appeal for help yesterday, insisting that the sighting of a man on the night of her disappearance was "significant" and "relevant".

Portuguese police said they are looking for a white man, aged 35 to 40, with short hair, seen carrying "what appeared to be a child in his arms"in the Praia da Luz resort in Portugal on 3 May. Officers have known about the sighting for three weeks but have not previously made it known that they were following it as a line of inquiry, due to Portuguese laws which keep a lid on how police investigations are progressing.

Gerry McCann and his wife Kate appeared on the steps of their apartment yesterday afternoon after a meeting with senior officers and tried to smooth over tensions between Madeleine's relatives and local police.

He said: "We very much welcome the decision of the police authorities to release details of a man seen by witnesses. The release of this important information followed an earlier meeting we had with senior police officers. We feel sure that this sighting of a man with what appeared to be a child in his arms is both significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction. We wish for nothing more than to bring Madeleine home with us safe and well."

The family had threatened legal action as they pushed for the information to be released, claiming the case was "exceptional". …