A convicted paedophile is being investigated in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Briton Raymond Hewlett was staying near Praia da Luz, in Portugal, when the three-year-old went missing in May 2007, according to reports.
Hewlett has been jailed several times for sexual offences against young girls.
A source close to the investigation said he is wanted for questioning by police forces in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and Leicestershire, as well as by gardaí.
The Daily Mirror today published a picture of the 64-year-old who, the paper said, was being treated for throat 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 from Rothley in Leicestershire.
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.
The alarm was raised about Hewlett by a couple who met him while on holiday in Portugal, the newspaper said.
Alan and Cindy Thompson said Hewlett was living with his wife and six children in a converted Dodge truck travelling from campsite to campsite.
Mr Thompson, 56, told the Mirror: “Hewlett befriended us but kept quiet about his terrible past.
“We were mortified and disgusted to discover the truth.”
They 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, 47, 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.
Hewlett maintains he was at a market in the Portuguese town of Fuseta, 30 miles from Praia da Luz, when Madeleine disappeared on Thursday May 3, 2007.
A former soldier, Hewlett was one of seven men featured in a News of the World campaign which urged the public to be on the lookout for missing paedophiles.
He also appeared on a Crimestoppers list of Most Wanted paedophiles.
In September 1972 he abducted a 12-year-old girl and assaulted her on moors near his home in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.
In 1978 Hewlett attacked another girl, this time putting a gun to her back but she managed to convince him visitors were arriving imminently and he let her go.
Hewlett was also questioned over the 1975 murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed, following the release of Stefan Kiszko who was wrongly imprisoned for the crime.
Another man was eventually convicted of the girl’s murder in 2007.