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Madeleine McCann: Court rejects parents’ claim over ex-policeman’s remarks

The parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared as a three-year-old in 2007, have lost a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

Gerald McCann and Kate Healy filed an appeal over a former Portuguese policeman’s comments in a book, documentary and newspaper interview.

Goncalo Amaral, who worked on the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, suggested in a book he authored that the youngster’s parents had been involved.

McCann and Healy argued his claims about their alleged involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance damaged their reputation and presumption of innocence.

But the ECHR on Tuesday dismissed the case.

“The court considered that — even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged — this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their being placed under investigation in the course of the criminal investigation and had led to intense media attention and much controversy,” said the ECHR in a press release.

“The information had thus been brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published. It followed that the national authorities had not failed in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.”

Madeleine McCann was three years old when she disappeared on May 3, 2007,  from the bedroom in the Algarve apartment her family were staying in. Early investigations by Portuguese police produced no major leads and for a while detectives focused attention on the parents.

The parents were questioned by police as formal suspects that autumn. The following July, the Portuguese police dropped their investigation citing a lack of evidence, and cleared them of any involvement.

They have campaigned tirelessly to draw attention to their daughter’s disappearance, and British public figures from business tycoons to authors and soccer stars have made appeals for information.

A convicted child abuser and drug trader emerged as the key suspect. In May, the German prosecutor investigating the case since 2020 said new evidence potentially incriminating the suspect, who is imprisoned for raping a woman in the same area when Madeleine went missing, had been found.

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