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April 29, 2015

Former detective in libel payout to parents of Madeleine McCann over book and documentary claims

By William Turvill and Press Association

A former detective has been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to the McCann family following a libel case in a Portuguese court.

Goncalo Amaral was on trial over claims he made in a book and a documentary that Gerry and Kate McCann were involved in their daughter Madeleine's disappearance in Praia da Luz on the Algarve in 2007.

In a written verdict, a Lisbon court held that Amaral should pay the McCanns 250,000 euros (£179,000) each in damages and banned further sales of his book The Truth Of The Lie.

Madeleine was aged three when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment on 3 May 2007 as her parents dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends.

Amaral, who led the initial investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, released his book The Truth Of The Lie three days after the case was closed in 2008.

He later took part in a documentary for Portuguese television in which he claimed that Madeleine was dead and that there had been no abduction.

Giving evidence at Lisbon's Palace of Justice last year the couple spoke of their "devastation, desperation, anxiety and pain" over his claims.

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They also said that the book and documentary had hampered support from the Portuguese people as they searched for their daughter.

Kate McCann told the court that her young son Sean had asked about Amaral's allegations after hearing about them on the radio while travelling on the school bus.

Last year, the McCanns won a £55,000 payout from The Sunday Times over a story that wrongly suggested they had hindered the police investigation into their daughter's  disappearance.

In October 2008, Express Newspapers paid £375,000 in libel damages to the seven holiday companions of the McCann's. They were known in the press as the "tapas seven" because they had dined in a tapas restaurant in the resort of Praia da Luiz on the night Madeleine went missing.

Also in 2008, the McCann's were paid £550,000 in damages by Express Newspapers over allegations they were responsible for the death of their daughter in a series of articles.

In July that year, four newspaper groups agreed a six-figure libel settlement with Robert Murat, at one point named by Portuguese police as a formal suspect in Madeleine's disappearance.

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