Madeleine McCann’s parents have received another blow after their defamation case against a former Portuguese detective was thrown out of court.
Kate and Gerry McCann sued Gonçalo Amaral after he wrongly implicated them in their daughter’s disappearance in 2007.
Amaral carried out the botched investigation after Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, and later claimed in interviews and in a book that the McCanns were involved in her disappearance. He was later removed from the case for criticizing British police.
Amaral published a book called The Truth of Lies a few days after the Portuguese investigation was called off in 2008.
In the book, I falsely claimed that the McCanns abducted the girl and hid her body.
In 2015, a Lisbon court ordered the former police officer to pay the parents 500,000 euros (750,000 AUD) in damages.
But that was overturned a year later by an appeals court, and Portugal’s Supreme Court upheld that ruling in 2017.
The McCanns took their fight to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), claiming Portuguese authorities violated their right to private family life. The court ruled in favor of Amaral.
They now have three months to appeal.
The ECHR ruled that the reputation of the McCanns had not been tarnished “due to the argument put forward by the author of the book”.
Any damage to their reputation resulted “from the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their indictment”, specifies the judgment.
“The information had thus been brought to the attention of the public in a fairly detailed manner even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published.
“It follows that the national authorities did not fail in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.”
Madeleine, then three, disappeared from their villa in Praia da Luz, Algarve, on May 3, 2007, while her parents were having tapas at a nearby restaurant.
His disappearance sparked a massive hunt, but flaws in the investigation may have allowed any potential kidnappers to flee.
The UK Metropolitan Police are still carrying out an active investigation, Operation Grange, as they try to uncover the truth about what happened to Madeleine. They think she’s still missing.
Earlier this year, Portuguese officials named German rapist Christian B as an official suspect.
Last June, German police said Madeleine was presumed dead and Christian B was likely responsible for her disappearance.
Originally published as Madeleine McCann’s parents lose challenge in Portuguese libel case