A detective who spent three years looking for Madeleine McCann says he believes she is "hidden in plain sight" and could still be on the Algarve.

Former Detective Inspector Dave Edgar, 60, is convinced Kate and Gerry McCann were not involved and said the disappearance was intricately planned by a gang of paedophiles.

Madeleine McCann disappeared from Portuguese resort Praia da Luz in May 2007 as her parents were dining at a nearby restaurant.

If she was still alive she would turn 14 in May and may look very different from the little girl on the Missing posters.

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Edgar told the Sunday Express: "There is every possibility that Madeleine is still alive and could be being hidden somewhere.

"When you get up beyond the main strip of the Algarve there's countless isolated properties where Madeleine could be being held."

Edgar, who runs Alpha Investigations Group, was hired by the McCanns to look into Madeleine's disappearance.

The Metropolitan Police took over the case in 2011.

Edgar told the Sun last week the £ 12million Home Office funding given to Scotland Yard to pay for the inquiry was "not nearly enough for a crime of this complexity and scale". He added: "It sounds a lot but it's not."

Scotland Yard's Operation Grange team have been given £85,000 to continue their inquiries until the autumn.

Edgar says there is no evidence to arrest paedophile Raymond Hewlett or Euclides Monteiro, two suspects in the inquiry.

Hewlett died in 2007, aged 64, while Monteiro, 40, died in 2009.

Edgar once said he believed Madeleine was being held in an underground cell or dungeon, like the victims of Josef Fritzl.