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Investigators have been trying to find out what happened to Madeleine since 2007, when the then-three-year-old vanished from an apartment in the Algarve while on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.
In 2020, a breakthrough came when police announced they finally had a prime suspect in the case, naming convicted rapist Christian B.
However, Christian B has since claimed to have an alibi, saying he had a holiday fling with a German 18-year-old girl the week of Madeleine's disappearance.
In feature-length documentary Madeleine McCann: The Case Against Christian B – which aired last night, 11 May, on Channel 5 – we follow investigative journalist Mark Williams-Thomas as he carries out the first active British TV investigation into the case’s prime suspect.
On the ground in both Portugal and Germany, the former detective delves into Christian B’s previous offences, visiting the sites of his child abuse offences – including the sweet shop kiosk he ran in Braunschweig and the box factory where 8,000 child abuse files were found.
However, one of the documentary’s biggest moments comes when Williams-Thomas looks into the suspect’s alibi.
"I can't quite believe what I've been told – that on the night of Madeleine's appearance, Christian B was with a woman outside of Praia De Luz and spent the night with her,” he says in the programme.
"And if that's true, he can't be involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
"I now need to find this woman as quickly as possible, and get her to give me her account."
Williams-Thomas manages to find the alibi’s home address, but it’s her partner who answers the door.
After speaking to the partner off-camera, he says: “I’ve managed to get some really important information. I spoke to her partner, who has told me that during May 2007, she was in Portugal.
“I showed him a document that says she was in Portugal, Faro, on the 10th of May 2007, and he said, ‘You’ve got good information’.
“And I said, ‘Well, that’s seven days after Madeleine disappeared.’
“And I asked him, ‘Was she with him that night?’
“And he basically said, ‘She can’t be sure. It was 15 years ago, she can’t remember.’
“But he does say, from her account, she was there in May 2007.
“I’m excited because I’m now filling in those little pieces of jigsaw puzzle that nobody else has got. It’s not rubbish, it’s not fabrication – perhaps he is telling the truth.”
Williams-Thomas had also been able to secure a face-to-face meeting with Christian B, but says this was blocked by the prison.
Instead, Christian B spoke to him via letter to address a number of topics, including the alibi.
Reading the letter, Williams-Thomas explains: “The alibi – this is where it gets interesting.
“He says that that week – including the period of time that Madeleine went missing – he met up with a girl, let’s call her ‘the alibi’.
“And he spent time with her overnight. He would drive up to Carvoeiro, park up there. She would come out of the apartment where she was for a week, staying with her parents. They'd spend time together in his campervan, she would go home a few hours later, and he would stay until 10 o’clock in the morning, and he would drive back to the beach area.
“Crucially, Christian B still doesn’t remember if he was with his claimed alibi on the evening Madeleine McCann disappeared, and his alibi only covers the hours of midnight to 2am, when he says they were together, but Madeleine was taken two-to-three hours earlier."
Williams-Thomas says Christian B also claimed police took a photo of him and his alibi at a road block a few days after Madeleine vanished, when authorities were stopping members of the public.
While Portuguese police said they did not have a record of this, Williams-Thomas is hopeful that New Scotland Yard might.
Elsewhere in the programme, he also discovers what appear to be weaknesses within the German prosecution case, examining an alleged 'confession' by the suspect, which may not have been reliable.
The phone evidence linking Christian B to Madeleine’s disappearance – the crucial 680 number – could have been up to 35 kilometres away, and may not have even belonged to him, but a German friend of his.
Watch Madeleine McCann: The Case Against Christian B on My5 now.
Featured Image Credit: Channel 5
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