Kate and Gerry McCann lose latest stage of libel battle against Portuguese detective

The parents of Madeleine McCann are “naturally disappointed” at losing their legal battle over comments made by a retired Portuguese detective but said they only took action to protect the search for their daughter.

Lawyers for Kate and Gerry McCann had argued that Portuguese authorities had breached their right to respect for a private and family life in the way the courts there dealt with their libel claims against Goncalo Amaral.

He claimed in a book, TV documentary and newspaper interview that the McCanns were involved in their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance.

In a judgment published on Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights rejected the couple’s arguments, finding that there was extensive publicity around the claims against them before Mr Amaral published his book in July 2008.

The McCanns said in a statement issued through their lawyers: “We are naturally disappointed with decision of the European Court of Human Rights announced today.

“However, much has changed since we started legal proceedings 13 years ago against Mr Amaral, his publisher and broadcaster.

“We took action for one and only one reason: Mr Amaral’s unfounded claims were having a detrimental impact on the search for Madeleine.

“If the public believed that we were involved in her disappearance, then people would not be alert for possible clues and may not report relevant information to the relevant law enforcement agencies.

“The focus is now rightly on the search for Madeleine and her abductor(s).

“We are grateful for the ongoing work by the British, German and Portuguese police.

“We hope that, with the help of the public, hard work and diligence we can eventually find those responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance and bring them to justice.”

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