MADELEINE McCann investigators are chasing significant leads that could signal a major development in the case, an ex-cop has said.
Jim Gamble was the UK’s top child protection police officer in the UK and was heavily involved in the initial search for Maddie.
She disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on the evening of May 3, 2007.
British and Portuguese police afterwards launched an enormous operation, but the desperate hunt continues 12 years later.
The investigation has so far cost UK taxpayers approximately £11.75 million, and police chiefs last month reportedly asked the Home Office for an additional £300,000.
Despite no tangible progress, Mr Gamble believes cops are edging closer to the truth.
He said: “What I know for a fact is this: the Metropolitan Police would not be asking for one penny more towards this investigation unless they had meaningful leads.
“I cannot see how this government, during the age of austerity – or the police themselves – would apply for money if there wasn’t something potentially positive that might come from it.
“You come to a point where you don’t ask for more money if there’s nothing more to do.
“There have to still be lines of inquiry to justify further investment. Nobody gives money away these days, they have to justify it.
“I’ve worked in that environment, you have to justify how much money you want, what you are going to use it for, and what impact it is likely to have.”
Mr Gamble believes that Maddie was abducted – as do her parents Kate and Gerry.
He continued: “Either someone took her, or in fact she wandered out that night and came to harm and that her body has never been discovered.”
The ex-detective is also confident that advances in DNA analysis will eventually herald a breakthrough in the investigation.
But those hopes were dealt a blow yesterday after DNA technology failed to identify a potential abductor.
More than 100 samples were recovered from the Portugal flat but their quality was deemed too poor.
Forensics expert Dr Mark Perlin earlier offered to re-test 18 vital samples with a groundbreaking computer programme – but his request was met with silence by Scotland Yard.
If they do co-operate, his US-based lab in Pittsburgh could return a preliminary report in just one to two weeks and potentially identify the culprits.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We are not prepared to give a running commentary on this investigation.”