Madeleine McCann detectives aim to interview a millionairess after a yacht at the centre of the inquiry into the child’s disappearance was traced.
Melissa Karlson’s mother owns the £6million vessel that docked in Barcelona hours before a mystery woman asked a British tourist: “Are you here to deliver my new daughter?”
But the family of the 31-year-old Australian, daughter of £250million socialite Rhonda Wyllie, 52, yesterday told the Sunday Mirror any suggestion the vessel was involved with the abduction or the mystery woman was “ludicrous”.
The team hunting three-year-old Madeleine had believed that the mystery powerboat could provide a breakthrough.
Flying an Australian flag, it was seen in Barcelona three days after she vanished in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
Records show the 105ft boat arrived just hours before a woman – said to look like Posh Spice Victoria Beckham – approached a British bank executive and asked: “Are you here to deliver my daughter?”
The woman was described as slim and “glamorous”, aged 30 to 35, about 5ft 2ins tall, with short spiky brown hair and speaking with an Australian accent. The luxury Sunseeker vessel, called Will Power, was reportedly the only vessel out of nine unaccounted for by Maddie investigators.
It was moored in Barcelona from 12.40pm on May 6, 2007, and left on the 9th for an unknown destination.
Investigators are keen to speak to Mrs Karlson, who runs her mother’s investment group, and Mrs Wyllie to rule them out.
A source close to the investigation told the Sunday Mirror: “We have been told about the daughter of the owner of this boat and are aware of who she is. We understand she’s currently in Perth, Australia, and will be keen to speak to her to eliminate her from our inquiries.”
The family last night said they were “distraught” to have been linked to the Madeleine case but would happily cooperate with police.
Mrs Karlson, married to fashion wholesaler Jamie, is the managing director of Wyllie Group, her mother’s company. Wyllie Group company director Craig Coleman, speaking on behalf of Mrs Karlson, said from his home in Perth: “This is the most ridiculous speculation I have ever heard. It’s ludicrous.”
It came as investigators working for Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann, both 41, from Rothley, Leics, had received dozens of names linked to the e-fit released last week. More than 600 phone calls have been made by people who saw the image.
The couple’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the team would be working their way through the names given to identify them.
A woman in Australia yesterday claimed to know the Posh Spice lookalike as Madeleine mania swept the country but the report turned out to be false.
It emerged that an investigator had already reportedly mounted an Australian surveillance operation.
Undercover detectives have been watching a number of individuals in Australia for several months after a tip-off that Madeleine was smuggled there.
But Australian Federal Police have said they are not involved in looking for Madeleine and have not been approached by the McCanns.
Ms Karlson started as a trainee accountant in her father Bill’s property development company before becoming MD in 2005, six months before his death.
She reportedly celebrated her 30th birthday with a big bash at the luxurious Legian Hotel in Bali in March last year. It is understood celebrity guests were flown in for the night.
Widow Mrs Wyllie, a non-executive director of Wyllie Group, is on Will Power, cruising in the Mediterranean, a spokesman said.
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