Madeleine: Witnesses may have mistaken suspect Robert Murat for his British 'double'
By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 13:32 24 January 2008
A British businessman with access to the Ocean Club complex where she disappeared looks so similar to the police suspect that even Mr Murat admitted: "It could be me."
His lawyer is now set to investigate whether the eight witnesses who said they saw Mr Murat on May 3 could have mistaken the other British expat, Angus Symington, for him.
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The astonishing likeness between the two men could cast doubt on the witnesses' evidence, which contradicts Mr Murat's alibi that he was at home all night with his elderly mother.
The contradictions were believed to have been a key reason why the father-of-one was named as an official suspect, or arguido, in the investigation on May 14.
Mr Murat, 34, was shown a photograph of Mr Symington and said: "I'm shocked, I'm amazed by the likeness.
"The hairline and the nose, it could be me. Only the chin is different.
"I will show this photograph to my lawyer and I hope he will raise it with the Policia Judiciaria."
There is no suggestion that Mr Symington was involved in Madeleine's disappearance and he is not a suspect in the case.
He sells and manages properties around Praia da Luz, including the Ocean Club, and had legitimate reasons to be in the town on May 3.
His office at Ocean Country Real Estate is a few hundred yards from Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment in the resort, which his father co-founded and still co-owns.
Mr Symington and Mr Murat are of similar age, height and build, both share British backgrounds and they both wear similar glasses.
Mr Murat's uncle Ralph Eveleigh was shown Mr Symington's photograph and exclaimed: "Bloody hell, it's Robert! They're very similar."
But Mr Murat's hopes that the likeness could help him clear his name were dealt a blow last night when Mr Symington said he left Praia da Luz at 6pm on May 3 and was seven miles away at the time of the witness sightings, between 10pm and midnight.
He said: "I categorically wasn't around on the night she vanished. I was at home with my family.
"I left Praia da Luz at 6pm on May 3 to go home. I live 10km away from here, so I was not in or around Luz that night. It couldn't have been me."
The Mail told earlier this month how detectives believed the witnesses could also have mistaken a friend of the McCanns, David Payne, for Mr Murat.
The 41-year-old medical researcher was out searching for Madeleine when the eight witnesses reported seeing Mr Murat, in the hours after Mrs McCann raised the alarm.
But the witnesses included Mr Payne's wife Fiona and their friends Russell O'Brien and Rachael Oldfield, who are unlikely to have mistaken the two men.
The other witnesses were Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington, who said she saw Mr Murat hanging around outside the Ocean Club's reception at about 10pm, and British holiday-maker Jayne Jensen, an unnamed British barrister and two unidentified British tourists who all claim to have seen him around the complex that night.
Mr Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: "Robert has always said the witnesses were mistaken. He was not there that night."
Mr and Mrs McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We are confident the accounts of witnesses were given in good faith."
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