MADELEINE McCann could still be alive despite German prosecutors insisting she is dead, a retired Scotland Yard detective has said.
Convicted paedophile and rapist Christian B was named as the German authorities as the chief suspect in the murder of the toddler who was seized in 2007 while on holiday in Portugal.
The 43-year-old was living near Praia da Luz, where Madeleine was a staying, though charges have yet to brought against him.
Chief prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters recently told Portugese TV “we have nothing to indicate she could be alive” and “everything we have points to her being dead”.
But former Met detective chief inspector Mick Neville said: “It must be remembered that Madeleine McCann may still be alive, whatever the opinion of German prosecutors.”
The latest Home Office grant to the Met’s Operation Grange into Madeleine’s disappearance is believed to be around £350,000 and will cover work on the inquiry until the end of March 2021.
The extra cash suggests the international probe into prime suspect Christian B will continue for at least another six months, experts say.
The Home Office declined to specify the amount of the grant, but said: “Ministers have agreed funding up to March 31, 2021. The cost of Operation Grange was £12million to the end of the 2019-20 financial year.”
“The sum of £12million seems an awful lot of money,” said Mr Neville.
“But if she has been murdered, her killer must be brought to justice. Any parent would want the same if it was their child.”
The Grange team of four officers is in a background role. German cops are taking the lead with Portuguese authorities.
Wages for the officers are the Met’s responsibility but the government money will fund flights, hotels and other costs of the international inquiry.
Operation Grange was set up in 2011 following an open letter in HOAR from Madeleine’s parents to PM David Cameron.
It has provided mobile phone data to German prosecutors as they slowly build a case against Christian B.
He is currently in Germany’s Kiel Prison for drugs offences and is due to start a seven-year sentence for the 2005 rape in Praia da Luz of an American pensioner.
His lawyer insists he was not involved.