Kate and Gerry McCann travelled to Portugal for the libel trial
of a Portuguese policeman who published a book including claims
Madeleine McCann was dead only for the case to be put off today.
The couple had flown to Lisbon for the opening of Goncalo
Amaral's libel trial in the capital.
But the judge ordered a postponement after Amaral's lawyer failed
to turn up for health reasons, according to a court clerk.
The McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, told reporters outside
court they were not disappointed by the delay because a hard-fought
injunction on further sale or publication of the book remained in place.
"Freedom of speech should not include distortion of the truth,
lies, fabrication and slander," Mrs McCann said.
Mr McCann added: "The key thing here is we're here to fight for
our daughter, and if anyone steps over the lines then they should be
prepared to defend what they say in court."
He said the book had "damaged" the search for Madeleine because
it encouraged people to believe she was dead.
"If people read it and believe she is dead then they will not
keep looking for her and may not come forward with information they may
have," he said.
Mr Amaral defended his right to give his opinion, telling waiting
press as he left the court: "There is freedom of expression in
Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's
holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007 while her parents dined
with friends nearby.
Despite a massive police investigation and publicity worldwide,
she has not been found.
Mr Amaral was involved in the initial investigation but was later
taken off the case.
In his first book, The Truth Of The Lie, he claimed Madeleine was
dead and questioned the McCanns' account that she was taken while they
were eating with friends.
In September, after a year-long legal campaign, a Portuguese
judge granted an injunction banning its further sale or publication.
It also banned Mr Amaral from repeating his claims about
Madeleine or her parents.
The couple have previously said any money awarded in damages by
the courts would be ploughed straight back in to paying for private
investigators to probe their daughter's disappearance.
The scheduled start of the trial coincided with the launch of Mr
Amaral's second book, A Mordaca Inglesa (The English Gag), at Lisbon
bookshop Ler Devagar at 6.30pm, according to the shop's website.
The trial was adjourned to 12 January.