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As dust settles on judge’s findings, McCann €1.2 million “libel win” looks distinctly shaky



Original Source: Portugal Resident 25 January 2015

Posted by portugalpress on January 25, 2015
Natasha Donn

It took some hours for the much-awaited “reading of the proven facts” to come through last week - and even then newspapers here and abroad got it wrong.

In Britain, the Daily Express ran with the headline: “Kate and Gerry McCann win court ruling in £1 million libel battle against ex-police chief”.

Here, Lusa news agency proclaimed “Court rules damages caused by Gonçalo Amaral to Kate and Gerry McCann proved”.

But they both jumped the gun.

Within hours Público realised the mistake and pulled the Lusa story from its website, running instead with the much-fairer “Court proves Kate and Gerry McCann were “not destroyed” by book by Gonçalo Amaral”.

Lusa regained its equilibrium, posting a revised story the next day carrying much the same headline.

And then this morning (Sunday), four days after judge Emília Mello e Castro handed the lawyers her “reading of the proven facts” - the cornerstones on which she will base her judgement on the long-running case - the Express has done a complete U-turn, running with a new headline proclaiming: “Exclusive: McCann’s will lose £1 million libel trial”

In fact, the exclusive belongs to the Algarve’s Len Port - the only journalist who got the story right first time.

Writing on his Portugal Newswatch blogsite, reproduced regularly by this Portugal Resident news portal, Port’s Wednesday post: “Amaral supporters optimistic about judge’s rulings in McCann libel case” was, in the end, a far more succinct version of what unfolded in Lisbon four days ago.

The reason for the confusion was perhaps two-fold. First, it took reporters time to get their hands on Emília Mello e Castro’s complete list of “proven facts” in the case that centres on Amaral’s book, A Verdade da Mentira (The Truth of the Lie); and second, there appears to have been a degree of press manipulation.

But now that the facts are in the public domain, we can summarise key findings.

Certainly, the likelihood of a resounding McCann win looks distinctly shaky.

Port’s report of “cautious optimism” among Amaral supporters was in itself characteristically cautious.

Supporters of the beleaguered former police inspector targeted by the McCann’s are positively crowing from the rooftops.

“As of Wednesday, the McCann ship is beyond repair”, jubilant Textusa blog reported.

The UK’s Miscarriage of Justice forum took to Twitter to confirm: “Court holds as not proven that book hampered search for Madeleine”, while myriad followers of the case were enthusiastic about what they called the “wonderful news coming from Portugal”.

It was a window in on the welter of support for Amaral’s right to have written his hypothesis for the disappearance of the world’s most famous missing person seven years ago.

As he has frequently told interviewers since the McCann’s lodged their civil action for a reported €1.2 million in damages against him, his life has been made a misery by their action and his “civil position” a target for what he terms “assassination”.

Talking to RTP as the dust began to settle last week, Amaral elaborated on the hiccups caused by what he termed “complete manipulation of the media”.

“Lusa agency, since all of this began, has been taking sides”, he said. “I wouldn’t say as much as they have taken the side of the couple, but they have taken the side of the couple’s lawyer. So there has been completely false news about me”.

Amaral also elaborated on the “assassination of his civil position”.

“In 2009, in January of 2009, I lived in the Algarve and was indicated to run for mayor of Olhão on behalf of the Social Democratic Party [PSD]. That alerted the family and Mr Gerald McCann came to Lisbon… he met with a top political official from PSD who has a French surname, with Dr Rogério Alves and with Dr Isabel Duarte… what happened then was that PSD gave me up as a candidate. This puts the rights of a citizen, the rights of a Portuguese citizen, at stake”.

It was at this point, Amaral told his interviewer, that the McCanns started “thinking about the lawsuit” that is now in its final stages.

Key facts proven and unproven:

Because of the statements made by defendant Gonçalo Amaral in the book (Truth of the Lie), in the documentary and in the interview to Correio da Manhã, the Polícia Judiciária stopped collecting information and investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Not proved

Because of the statements made by defendant Gonçalo Amaral in the book, in the documentary and in the interview to Correio da Manhã, authors Kate McCann and Gerald McCann are completely destroyed, from a moral, social, ethical, sentimental, family point of view, much beyond the pain that their daughter’s absence causes them? Not proved

Because of the statements made by defendant Gonçalo Amaral in the book, in the documentary and in the interview to Correio da Manhã, authors Kate McCann and Gerald McCann suffer permanent anguish, insomnia, lack of appetite, anxiety and irritability, preoccupation and indefinable fear? Proved, but the judge adds that this psychological state is pre-existent to the book, the documentary and the interview and was not caused by the book. Nonetheless, it cannot be reasonable to believe that the book, the documentary and the interview had no effect on the couple, i.e. It had an effect but that is perfectly normal.

Because of defendant Gonçalo Amaral’s statements in the book, in the documentary and in the interview to Correio da Manhã, author Kate McCann is immersed in a deep and serious depression, which has already made her state publicly “I wish I was in a coma, to relieve the pain”? Not proved

The attention of the media and of people in general diminished when defendant Gonçalo Amaral’s book was published? Not proved

For a full list of the proven facts, see the

As Len Port explained in his initial report on the judge’s findings: “The McCanns now have time to seek and present authorisation from the British High Court to formally represent their daughter in this case. Madeleine was made a ward of court at the instigation of her parents in April 2008. This could have a bearing on the amount of any compensation eventually awarded”.

“No date has been set for a verdict but it is thought to be more than two months away. Even when it comes, the verdict will probably not be the end of the matter. An appeal is likely.”

The veteran journalist concluded: “Amaral has let it be known that he is considering instigating a counter defamation lawsuit against the McCanns to seek compensation for the enormous damages on different levels he claims they have caused him”.


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