MADELEINE McCann could still be alive despite German cops' murder investigation, says an officer from the first UK probe into her disappearance.
A former detective from Northern Ireland has come out to say he disagrees with German prosecutors, who fear the youngster is dead.
It comes after they released the name of the latest suspect in the 13-year case – Christian B.
Jim Gamble said the development was the first time in the long investigation "when I actually dared to hope", and added he thinks she might still be alive.
He told Good Morning Britain: "I think until we've got the evidence to substantiate that [her being dead], I would never want to take away hope.
"Maybe I've missed some of the evidence but I think the approach of New Scotland Yard is we don't know what happened to Madeleine and looking to find what happened is the right one…. but I won't hypothesise about whether she's alive or dead or not."
Mr Gamble said the man was only being made public now as it was a "painstaking" process which began from "a point of chaos" after the initial investigation had been "bungled".
It remains unclear why Christian B was eliminated as a suspect in 2008.
And questions have been raised over why it had taken so long for the serial sex offender to emerge as the prime suspect.
Ex-Met detective chief inspector Mick Neville, who visited Praia da Luz to investigate Madeleine's disappearance with The Sun, said: "It has to be asked why this man has only just become so prominent in the inquiry?
"We are told that he has previous convictions for having sexual contact with girls and was known to be living and driving around Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing.
"Surely he should have stood out in a small Algarve village?"
The Met is still treating the case as a missing person inquiry as there is no "definitive" proof of whether she is dead or alive.
Christian B is now the prime suspect in the infamous 2007 disappearance with prosecutors in Germany investigating him "on suspicion of murder".
They sensationally revealed yesterday they believe Madeleine is dead and know how she was killed – despite no body being found.
Her parents, Kate and Gerry, refuse to believe their daughter Madeleine is dead until her body is found, a close friend said this week.
It comes after the the heartbroken mum and dad said all they want is to "uncover the truth" and "bring those responsible to justice" as the new prime suspect was revealed in the case.
The 43-year-old couldn't legally be pictured in full in the UK but we are now able to show the convicted rapist after a German newspaper published his photo.
German and UK police forces have appealed for anyone who knows him to contact them with information.
His mugshot shows he has blue eyes and blonde hair with pockmarked skin – matching an e-fit released in 2013 of a light-haired suspect seen skulking near apartment where Madeleine vanished hours later.
Christian B, who has a total of 17 convictions, according to SPIEGEL, cruised the Algarve in a vintage Jaguar during 12 nomadic years as a wannabe bohemian in Portugal.
The suspect is currently in jail in the German city of Kiel serving a 21-month drugs sentence and will serve seven years for the rape if his conviction is upheld on an appeal he has lodged against the verdict.
It has since been claimed Christian B, 43, could become eligible for parole on Sunday and potentially released from prison.
Police in Germany fear the drifter, who stole from hotels in the area, may have snatched Madeleine after first entering the holiday home to raid it.
He was living in a campervan in Praia da Luz in Portugal around the time the three-year-old vanished on May 3, 2007.
As well as the campervan, the drug dealer and burglar also been linked to a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 with a German number plate seen in Praia da Luz and surrounding areas in 2006 and 2007.
On May 4, 2007 – the day after Madeleine vanished – he got the Jaguar re-registered in Germany under someone else's name although it is believed the vehicle remained in Portugal.
German police believe one of the two vehicles were used in the disappearance of Madeleine.
He also took a mysterious 30-minute phonecall just one hour before the disappearance and had also rented two homes in Portugal just miles from the Ocean Club where Madeleine was staying.
The suspect's extensive rap sheet includes sex attacks on kids, indecent images, sexual coercion, theft and breaking and entering, reports Bild.
He was first convicted aged just 17 in Bavaria in 1994 for “abusing a child” and “performing sex acts in front of a child”.
Christian B was first thrust into the frame in 2017 after allegedly confessing to abducting Madeleine in a bar.
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