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Madeleine McCann’s parents await decision in legal battle with cop who blamed them for disappearance

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Former policeman Goncalo Amaral, 62, was taken off the Madeleine McCann investigation after a 27 year police career. He published his book The Truth of the Lie in 2008, suggesting her parents were responsible for her disappearance

Madeleine McCann‘s parents will find out later this year if they have won their rollercoaster legal battle against a former Portuguese detective who suggested they were responsible for their daughter’s disappearance.

Kate and Gerry, both 54, took against Goncalo Amaral, 62, for slurs in his book The Truth of the Lie and they have been locked in a bitter courtroom fight ever since it was published in 2008 – a year after Madeleine went missing. 

They are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights in the French city of Strasbourg after Portugal’s highest court threw out their long running libel claim against Amaral, who suggested they were involved in her disappearance.

Initially they had won the first round and an injunction was granted to prevent further sales of the book, which was written by Amaral who was taken off the investigation after a 27 year police career.

He later appealed the decision and after years of litigation – which also at one point involved him paying the McCanns £429,000 in compensation – won the case in 2017.

This was after Portugal’s highest court ruled he was entitled to ‘freedom of expression’ but in a last throw of the dice the McCanns immediately went to the European Court of Human Rights and have been waiting ever since for a decision.

Technically the case being considered by the court in Strasbourg is against Portugal and Portuguese justice, and not Amaral himself.

If the McCann’s lose, they could be forced to pay considerable costs.

Madeleine McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry, mark the 15th anniversary of their daughter's disappearance from Portugal at a vigil in their home village of Rothley. They will find out this year if they have won their lengthy legal battle against the former policeman

Madeleine McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry, mark the 15th anniversary of their daughter’s disappearance from Portugal at a vigil in their home village of Rothley. They will find out this year if they have won their lengthy legal battle against the former policeman

It may even involve them dipping into their Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned account which according to the latest accounts has a balance of £931,500.

Paperwork lodged at the court shows Kate and Gerry are claiming the allegations in his book and a subsequent documentary ‘infringed their right to respect for their private life and their right to presumption of innocence’.

They complained that the Portuguese ruling failed to take into account criteria set out in case law and judges at the Strasbourg court sent out detailed questionnaires to the Portuguese state asking the McCanns for further observations and if an out of court settlement was possible.

A source in Strasbourg said the Portuguese had refused the offer and other documents in the case reveal Amaral made more than £350,000 from the book and DVD, plus another £20,000 from various TV and newspaper interviews.

In their argument the couple detail the pain they have been through since then three-year-old Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast in May 2007.

They go on to describe the anguish they endured after being made suspects or ‘arguidos’ by the Portuguese police a few months after she disappeared.

Lawyers say Amaral’s book ‘incriminated innocent citizens, accused of terrible crimes they never committed’.

It goes on to say they are trying to ‘protect not only their reputation but that of the child as well’.

They also say Amaral’s book was ‘extravagant’ and ‘damaged the good reputation’ of the McCann family.

Last year, Amaral wrote a follow up book called Maddie: Enough Lies in which he said prime suspect Christian Brueckner, named in 2020 by German police, was merely a scapegoat

Last year, Amaral wrote a follow up book called Maddie: Enough Lies in which he said prime suspect Christian Brueckner, named in 2020 by German police, was merely a scapegoat

Amaral argued in his defence that the book’s allegations came from his and his team’s investigation.

Last year Amaral wrote a follow up book called Maddie: Enough Lies in which he said prime suspect Christian Brueckner, who was named in 2020 by German police as the man responsible for her kidnap and ‘murder’ was merely a scapegoat.

He says German investigators have turned convicted rapist and paedophile Brueckner, into a ‘man made Frankenstein’ and he accuses them of a botch job as part of their ‘discredited desire’ to link Brueckner, 45, to the crime.

In the 294 page book he also again repeated his theory the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire were responsible, but they have always steadfastly denied it.

A spokesperson for the European Court of Human Rights told MailOnline: ‘The application is scheduled to be examined in the first semester of 2022, a ruling being expected before the end of the summer.’

Officials said lawyers for both parties would be aware of the timings and that no one would have to give evidence in person before the court unless the panel specifically requested it.



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