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Robert Murat accepts £600,000 after Madeleine McCann allegations

Original Source: TIMES: THURSDAY17-07-08
From July 17, 2008
Robert Murat has accepted a £600,000 settlement from media outlets who made false accusations against him in the wake of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Mr Murat, 34, launched the libel action after dozens of stories implicated him in the disappearance of the four-year-old, who vanished last May from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.


Outside the High Court today, he said: “The newspapers in this case brought about the total and utter destruction of mine and my family’s life and caused immense distress. I can now start to rebuild my life.”

The Algarve-based property consultant was in court to hear his solicitor, Louis Charalambous, tell Mr Justice Eady that it was now acknowledged that the allegations against him were entirely untrue.

Mr Charalambous said the newspaper journalists and their editors had acted “with a reckless disregard for the truth”.


Mr Murat's lawyers brought proceedings against Associated Newspapers, Express Newspapers, MGN Limited and News Group Newspapers over nearly 100 “seriously defamatory” articles.

As well as Mr Murat, Sergey Malinka, a Russian IT operative, and his girlfriend, Michaela Walczuch, accepted more £100,000 each in damages for allegations made against them in the British press.


Mr Charalambous said “Let’s not forget Mr Malinka’s and Ms Walczuch’s lives have also been devastated by the baseless, inaccurate media coverage that has proliferated about them through swathes of the British press over the last year.

“Today’s public apology and the six figure sum in damages that each of these parties have also secured will go some way to compensating for the distress they have suffered and restoring their good names.


“It will bury the lies published about them which included made up allegations of sexual perversion and, in Mr Malinka’s case, a criminal record.”

Today Mr Murat said that he felt “vindicated” after the newspapers made a formal apology for the stories, which he described as “devastating”.

Mr Murat was named a formal suspect, or 'arguido,' by Portuguese police during their investigation, but officers completed their inquiries at the start of this month without charging anyone.

He was questioned by police 11 days after Madeleine went missing on May 3, 2007. Police searched the villa near the McCann's holiday apartment where he lived with his mother after a journalist spoke to the British Embassy and the police about him. He said today that he would continue to live in the apartment.

Journalists met Mr Murat while dozens of members of the British media were in Praia da Luz after Madeleine’s disappearance. He told them he had been helping police with translation work during the search.

Last month, Mr Murat said that his computers had been returned to him by the police, which he hoped would signal the end of his arguido status.

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