Hundreds of people have responded to a fresh police appeal for information over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Scotland Yard, working with German and Portuguese authorities, have received hundreds of emails and calls from the public after urging people to come forward if they could shed more light on a German prisoner currently under investigation on Wednesday night.

German prosecutors believe Madeleine is dead and are investigating the child sex predator on suspicion of her murder.

Madeleine disappeared just before her fourth birthday. Credit: PA

DCI Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, said more than 270 calls and emails had been received by 4pm on Thursday.

Thanking the public for getting in touch, he said: “We are pleased with the information coming in, and it will be assessed and prioritised.

“We continue to urge anyone with information to come forward and speak with us.”

  • Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick reveals the suspect's name was given to police in 2017

The suspect under investigation, a 43-year-old German national who has been named in media reports as Christian B, is reportedly serving a seven-year prison sentence for the rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Portugal in 2005.

He is known to have lived on the Algarve coast and his Portuguese mobile phone received a half-hour phone call in Praia da Luz around an hour before Madeleine, three, went missing on May 3 2007.

Scotland Yard said he was believed to have been living in a distinctive early 1980s VW T3 Westfalia camper van at the time and re-registered a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 in someone else’s name the day after her disappearance.

The force’s Operation Grange, which has received £12.3 million in funding up since it was launched in 2013, still considers the case a missing person inquiry because there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

But Hans Christian Wolters, a spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor’s office, said the suspect is being investigated “on suspicion of murder”, adding: “We are assuming that the girl is dead.

German newspaper Braunschweiger Zeitung reported the suspect was convicted of rape in Braunschweig District Court in December last year.

A house in Portugal linked to the suspect Credit: Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany/PA

Der Spiegel reported he is serving a prison sentence in Kiel, having been initially extradited from Portugal in 2017 and convicted of drug trafficking.

The German magazine said his criminal record contains a total of 17 entries, including child abuse while he was still a teenager, and published a pixelated picture of him apparently taken from Facebook.

It comes after Christian Hoppe, from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), told the country’s ZDF television channel on Wednesday night German police have not ruled out a sexual motive for the alleged crime against Madeleine.

He said that the suspect may have broken into an apartment in the Ocean Club complex, where Madeleine was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and her twin siblings Sean and Amelie, before spontaneously kidnapping her.

A BKA appeal said: “There is reason to assume that there are other persons, apart from the suspect, who have concrete knowledge of the course of the crime and maybe also of the place where the body was left.”

Kate and Gerry McCann in 2007 Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Both vehicles linked to the suspect have been seized by German police, who said there is information to suggest the suspect may have used one of them in the alleged offence.

The BKA is asking for other potential victims to come forward, while an appeal on German Crimewatch-style programme XY said the suspect was linked to houses in Portugal, including one between Praia da Luz and Lagos.

Scotland Yard revealed the “significant development” in a joint appeal with the BKA and the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ), including a £20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance who vanished shortly before her fourth birthday.

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, in Leicestershire, welcomed the latest appeal in a statement which said: “We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace.”