The parents of Madeleine McCann have lost their European court of human rights challenge to the Portuguese supreme court’s decision to throw out their libel case against a former detective who implicated them in their daughter’s disappearance.
Kate and Gerry McCann sued Gonçalo Amaral, who led the botched police search for Madeleine in 2007, over statements he made in a book, documentary and newspaper interview alleging that they were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance.
In 2015, a Lisbon court ordered Amaral, a former detective inspector, to pay €500,000 (£440,000) to Madeleine’s parents. But an appeal court overturned the decision the next year and, in 2017, the supreme court also found against the McCanns.
The couple went to the European court of human rights to seek redress, relying on the European convention on human rights – including articles conferring the right to a fair hearing and the right to respect for private and family life – to argue that Amaral’s statements damaged their reputation, their good name and their right to be presumed innocent.
The McCanns now have three months to appeal against the decision.
Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007, while her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant, triggering a huge missing person investigation.
Amaral released his book, The Truth of the Lie, three days after the Portuguese attorney general decided to end the search for the toddler in 2008. He later took part in a documentary for Portuguese television.
In April this year, officials in Faro named a 44-year-old convicted German rapist, Christian Brückner, as an arguido, or formal suspect. It was the first time Portuguese authorities had officially identified a suspect in the case since Madeleine’s parents were declared as such in 2007. They were formally cleared of suspicion in 2008.
German police said in June 2020 that Madeleine was assumed dead and that Brückner was probably responsible for her disappearance. However, British officers continue to treat it as a missing person case.
More details to follow …