We must keep an open mind and have been here before but this development is encouraging.

The Metropolitan Police seem to have been quietly working on this behind the scenes for some time and to me that is welcome.

Hopefully we will see that persistence can pay off. The family of Madeleine deserve nothing less.

I went to Praia da Luz many years ago for The Mirror to take a look at this case myself.

I said then that I thought the suspect would be someone who either worked in the area or had connections there.

But I felt he was probably not Portuguese. I always suspected this was a visitor, one of the thousands who frequented Portugal at that time of year.

Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007
Madeleine McCann has been missing since 2007

I was clear from early on that I did not believe that the McCanns or their friends were involved in any kind of conspiracy.

The big issue for me was that in my opinion the original investigation by the Portuguese police and then later from Leicestershire Police was not properly led.

This has to be one of the most frustrating cases that I have come across in my 50 years as a police officer and investigator.

The most important issue for me about this suspect are his previous convictions for “sexual contact with girls”.

We have not yet been given all the details but this is crucial.

I always had a feeling this was someone known to the authorities.

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You want to be able to pin down his movements. It appears the police have been able to do that.

The van is very interesting. What did he use it for? Did he sleep in it?

Unfortunately, I have always feared that Madeleine may have come to a tragic end that night.

But this does appear to be significant.

I cannot recall the police identifying a person of interest to this extent before.