Shannon cops join hunt for Madeleine McCann

The West Yorkshire Police squad which found missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews is to help in the search for Madeleine McCann.

The move follows a private meeting between Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann and the Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

The Child Exploitation Centre and Online Protection (Ceop) has now approached West Yorkshire Police's major inquiry team which found missing Dewsbury nine-year-old Shannon Matthews in March 2008.

The YEP understands a "scoping exercise" is being carried out by Home Office officials to decide whether a new investigation is necessary.

The approach to West Yorkshire Police is believed to have come direct from Ceop but they have refused to comment on any specific case.

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A spokesman said that it was "sensible" for their organisation to avail itself of any expertise or knowledge available when carrying out inquiries into the exploitation of any child whether it was a high profile case or not.

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The investigation into Shannon's disappearance was led by Det Supt Andy Brennan. After a 24 day search she was found alive – hidden a few miles from her Dewsbury Moor home in the base of a divan bed at the house of her mother's uncle Michael Donovan in Batley.

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In January 2009 Donovan, 41, and Shannon's mother, Karen Matthews, 33, were each jailed for eight years for kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting justice. They had hoped to claim 50,000 reward from newspapers.

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Maddie disappeared from her parents holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve coast in May 2007. Portuguese police were unable to determine whether she had been abducted and "archived" their inquiry in July 2008.

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Since then her parents have employed private detectives to continue the hunt for their daughter.

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