German prisoner identified as prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

A German national, who travelled around Portugal in a camper van is now the prime suspect in Scotland Yard's investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann who disappeared 13 years ago.

The suspect who, who has not been named was in the vicinity of the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on the evening of 3 May 2007, and is currently in prison in Germany.

Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann thanked the police, adding: "All we have ever wanted is to find her."

“All we wanted is to uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice. We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know, as we need to find peace,” they said.

The day after Madeleine vanished, the suspect transferred a Jaguar car to someone else's name.

Her disappearance sparked a huge and costly police hunt across much of Europe - the most recent Met Police investigation, which began in 2011, has cost more than £11m.

German investigators launched their own appeal for witnesses on Wednesday, revealing the suspect was a convicted paedophile in prison for sexual offences and drug trafficking. They have initiated proceedings against the suspect on suspicion of McCann’s alleged murder.

The man has two previous convictions for "sexual contact with girls", according to Christian Hoppe from Germany's federal criminal police office.

An appeal on a German TV network was broadcast on Wednesday evening. DCI Cranwell said the prisoner, then aged 30, was a frequent holidaymaker in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007, staying for "days on end" in his camper van and living a "transient lifestyle".

He was in the Praia de Luz area where the McCann family was staying when she disappeared and received a phone call at 7.32pm, which ended at 8.02pm.

In what they described as a significant moment in their investigation, the Metropolitan police released details of the telephone number used by the man and a number he had been called from.

The suspect is believed to have been using a Portuguese mobile phone, with the number +351 912 730 680 on the day Madeleine went missing.

The phone received a call in the area of Praia da Luz from a second mobile number, +351 916 510 683, from someone not in the area. They want the person who made this call to come forward.

“Our main line of inquiry is this suspect,” said Stuart Cundy, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner.

“He is the main focus of our investigation, which is why we are making this appeal, to help us with that investigation, to prove or disprove his involvement.”

Police said the suspect was one of 600 people that detectives on the inquiry, known as Operation Grange, originally looked at, though he had not been a suspect.

After an appeal in 2017, "significant" fresh information about him was provided.

Since then, Met detectives have carried out "extensive inquiries" in Portugal and Germany in order to gather more details about him.

Images were released of a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia campervan, an early 1980s model with white upper body and a yellow skirting and a Portuguese registration plate; as well as a 1993 Jaguar car that was registered in Germany.They want information from anyone who may have seen both vehicles, which have been seized and are in the possession of police in Germany.

“You may be aware of some of the things he has done. He may have confided in you about the disappearance of Madeleine. More than 13 years have passed and your loyalties may have changed. He is in prison and we are conscious that some people may have been concerned about contacting police in the past. Now is the time to come forward. We are appealing to you,” Cundy said.

Unlike the German murder inquiry the Met investigation is still being treated as a missing person’s investigation. Cundy said police did not have definitive evidence as to whether Madeleine was alive or dead.