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Madeleine McCann: Suspect Christian B was ‘tipped off by Praia da Luz hotel worker’

A crooked hotel worker and an innocent receptionist may have given Madeleine McCann’s suspected abductor the opportunity to break in to her family’s holiday apartment.

The employee tipped off Christian B that the McCanns and their friends ate each night at the same poolside bar, according to a Portuguese newspaper.

The holiday complex receptionist noted the block dinner reservation in a staff register that was available for all to see at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz.

Madeleine’s mother Kate later wrote in her book, titled Madeleine: “It wasn’t until a year later, when I was combing through the Portuguese files, that I discovered that the note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day.

“To my horror I saw that, no doubt in all innocence and to explain why she was bending the rules a bit, the receptionist had written the reason for our request… we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.”

Police have identified the Ocean Club employee who passed the information on to Christian B, said the newspaper Correio de Manha.

It also reported that the employee had Christian B’s mobile phone number in his own phone.

Last week, the phone number was issued by Scotland Yard and German detectives in a public appeal for information about the suspect.

Police suspect that Christian B, 43, who had a history of burglary, sex abuse and other crimes. used the tip-off to try to steal valuables from the McCanns’ apartment, but then kidnapped Madeleine.

Anthony Summers, co-author with Robbyn Swan of the book Looking For Madeleine, said: “It’s potentially very important because the fact that the McCanns, along with their doctor friends, were eating at the restaurant across the pool from their apartment each night that week had been entered into a reservations book for all to see – and particularly obviously for the staff in the restaurant to see.

“Christian B himself had been a waiter at some point. We don’t know whether he’d been a waiter at the Ocean Club, but he’d been a waiter and knew other waiters that could have known there was an entry in the reservations book.

“Did he learn from somebody who was complicit, not necessarily at all in abducting or murdering Madeleine, but perhaps in how to take advantage of people being away to rob an apartment?

“Was there an accomplice in that respect on the staff of the Ocean Club?”

Police continue to appeal for information about Christian B’s distinctive white and yellow VW camper van, which they believe he may have been using at the time Madeleine vanished in May 2007.

Three weeks after she disappeared, police were sent a report of a potential sighting of Madeleine with a man getting into a similar VW camper van in Alcossebre, north of Valencia in Spain.

The sighting, a 10-hour drive from Praia da Luz, was investigated, but the Portuguese police files show that detectives found the driver and he was eliminated from the investigation.

In Germany, the suspect’s former landlord Alexander Bischoff told Sky News how he befriended Christian B and gave him a place to stay when he left Portugal, but later discovered his life of crime.

He said: “For a long time I had no idea about his criminal offences, buying drugs, selling drugs, stealing diesel, etc.

“The first time I learned anything about it was when a unit of Kripo detectives stood out front of my apartment asking to be let in to search it.

“They said that it was to do with a violent or serious crime and Christian. I asked, ‘what does serious crime mean?’

“And they said it was in connection with a murder.”

Christian B is currently in jail in Germany serving a sentence for rape and drugs offences.

Police are investigating him over the disappearances of Madeleine, a five-year-old German girl Inga Gehrike, and a German boy Rene Hassee, none of whom have been since they vanished.

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