Many thanks to Jailhouselawyer for pointing out this article, in The Telegraph today. It has been revealed that, shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared last year, her parents applied to the High Court to have her made a ward of court. They are now using the wardship to ask the court to order Leicestershire Police to disclose details of reported sightings of Madeleine, so that they can have those sightings investigated by a detective agency.
Wardship is a fairly rare bird these days. Its effect is to empower the court to make such orders as are deemed necessary for the protection of the child. This may seem a bit odd in respect of a child that is missing and may be dead, but wardship is quite often used in such circumstances - the court can make whatever orders are considered necessary to locate and return the child, and this is exactly what the McCanns are seeking. On the face of it, it does seem to make sense - surely the more people that are looking for Madeleine, the greater the chance that she will be found (assuming, of course, that she is still alive)? On the other hand, a cynic might say that the application is just a smokescreen - an attempt by the McCanns (who are, of course, suspects in the case) to indicate their innocence.
Update: The police have agreed to release the files.