A forensics expert believes the decade-long mystery over Madeleine McCann’s disappearance could be solved by Facebook. Retired detective chief inspector Mick Neville believes the social media site’s cutting-edge facial recognition software could help find the missing girl.

Three-year-old Maddie was snatched from a bed inside her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007, but as the most high-profile missing person investigation in history reaches the 10-year mark, Mr Neville believes new technology not available to detectives at the start of the probe could hold the key, as if Maddie was abducted or passed on to child traffickers then a photograph could exist somewhere on the internet or a passport database.

He told The Sun : “There are still opportunities to find out what happened to Madeleine McCann through the use of images. If she was still alive — and there is no proof she is not — then by using a combined tactic of technology and people with advanced facial recognition skills you could potentially find where Madeleine is today. If an image search was carried out for females in an age range of three to 15 with this eye marking then you may only have a few hundred in the UK and tens of thousands worldwide. It would be an easily manageable number to scan through.”