A convicted paedophile is being investigated in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, it emerged tonight.
Raymond Hewlett was staying near Praia da Luz, in Portugal, when the three-year-old went missing in April 2007.
Hewlett has reportedly been jailed several times for sexual offences against young girls. He is also wanted by some UK police forces for questioning about sex attacks going back nearly 30 years, reports said.
The Daily Mirror tonight published a picture of the 64-year-old who, the paper said, was being treated for cancer in a German hospital.
Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry, said Hewlett was a line of inquiry being looked at by investigators working for the couple.
Mr Mitchell said: ``We are aware of Raymond Hewlett and the claims that have been made about him in some newspapers.
“The investigators searching for Madeleine are currently looking into the circumstances surrounding these claims.
“Mr Hewlett is an individual of interest to the Madeleine investigation but I would stress it is just one line of inquiry.
“Beyond that I can’t really go into any further operational detail.”
He said Madeleine’s parents were “fully aware” of the development and added that the couple’s investigators had been in Portugal for the last week.
A source close to the investigation said Hewlett was wanted for questioning by police forces in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and Leicestershire, as well as the Gardaí.
The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal, the newspaper said.
When Alan and Cindy Thompson met Hewlett, he was living with his wife and six children in a converted Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite.
Mr Thompson told the Mirror: “Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his terrible past.
“We were mortified and disgusted to discover the truth.”
They also described a conversation in which Hewlett said he was approached by some “Gipsy tourists” offering to buy his daughter just before Madeleine went missing.
Mrs Thompson said: “We didn’t think too much of this at the time. Ray and his family led a desperate hand-to-mouth lifestyle and someone may have thought he’d be tempted to sell one of his six children.”
They also recalled him mentioning a “business” trip to Morocco where there were several alleged sightings of Madeleine in the months after her disappearance.