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The parents of Madeleine McCann once had a plane on standby ready to fly them to Morocco to pick up a little girl they believed was their missing daughter.
A spokesperson for the family revealed the dramatic plan, which was put into place after intelligence found that a young, blonde girl who was speaking English was found there just months after she vanished.
Clarence Mitchell, who used to work for the BBC, began working for Kate and Gerry McCann after their daughter disappeared from Portugal in 2007. He has now revealed details of the two times the heartbroken parents thought little Maddie had been found, the Telegraph reports.
At the end of 2007 private investigators working on behalf of the McCanns found a little "blonde-haired girl who spoke English" in Morocco.
Speaking to the paper, he said: "All the information coming back to us suggested heavily that it could be Madeleine, so much so that an aircraft was put on stand-by, with its engines running, waiting to fly to pick her up.
"It became clear she was not Madeleine."
He also revealed that shortly after he began working with the McCanns he began to receive 3am phone calls from the 'same ghostly man's voice', who gave him the name of a farm near Seville where he said the little girl was hidden.
He added: "As it was raided, and turned out to look exactly as he had painted it in those calls, I really felt we were on to something. But she wasn't there, and those tip-offs - like so many others that we received from hoaxers, ransom seekers, conmen and psychics - were never explained."
Speaking about his relationship with the family, he said: "I am proud to have supported them and continue to do so when needed and wish them well in everything they do."
"Like everyone I have no idea what happened that day but very much hope she is still alive," he said.
Clarence Mitchell with the McCanns. Credit: PA
"There is no evidence to suggest she has come to physical harm and it is perfectly logical to think she is alive, as Kate and Gerry believe, as it is illogical to assume without any evidence that she is dead."
The McCanns are preparing to fund the search for Maddie when the Met Police inquiry is brought to an end. They have always insisted their little girl is alive and have refused to give up looking for her.
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