EXCLUSIVE: Madeleine McCann’s parents will finally find out on Tuesday if they have won 14-YEAR libel battle against cop who suggested they were to blame for the girl’s disappearance
- A 2008 book suggested the McCanns were responsible for the disappearance
- The Portuguese officer was taken off the investigation after a 27-year career
- The McCanns fought back against the initial ruling on an appeal in Portugal
Madeleine McCann’s parents will find out next week if they have won their rollercoaster legal battle against the former policeman who suggested they were responsible for her disappearance.
Kate and Gerry took action 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.
Madeleine McCann’s parents, Gerry McCann (R) and Kate McCann (L), are soon to find out the results of their rollercoaster legal battle against the former policeman who suggested they were responsible for their daughter’s disappearance
Former Policia Judiciaria detective Goncalo Amaral, pictured holding a copy of his book entitled Maddie: The Truth about the Lie, has been embroiled in a 14-year libel battle against the parents. Kate and Gerry took action against Amaral for his 2008 book
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 ditch battle 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 but if they lose they could be forced to pay considerable costs.
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 McCann 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 onto describe the anguish they endured after being made suspects or ‘arguidos’ by the Portuguese police a few months after she disappeared.
The former police officer’s book hammers out a theory that the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance
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. 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.
In an announcement Thursday, the ECHR said the judgement was among 24 that would be published on Tuesday.
The McCann’s fought back against the initial ruling on an appeal, complaining that the Portuguese ruling failed to take into account criteria set out in case law
It added: ‘The case concerns statements made by Mr Goncalo Amaral — a former detective inspector — in a book, a documentary, adapted from that book and a newspaper interview about the applicants’ alleged involvement in the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine McCann, who went missing on May 3 2007 in southern Portugal.
‘Relying on articles 6 and 2 (right to a fair hearing, 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention, the applicants allege that those statements damaged their reputation, their good name and their right to be presumed innocent, and complain that they were unable to redress before the domestic courts.
‘They also argue that the reasoning in decisions issued by the Supreme Court on 31 January and 21 March 2017, at the close of action for damages brought by them, breached their right to be presumed innocent.’
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