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Libel conviction of ex-detective in Madeleine McCann case overturned



Appeal in favour of Gonçalo Amaral English translation 19-04-2016
Original Source: Guardian Wednesday 20 April 2016

Staff and agencies
Wednesday 20 April 2016 00.27 BST


Gonçalo Amaral had been ordered to compensate Kate and Gerry McCann after his book alleged they were involved in their daughter’s disappearance


Kate and Gerry McCann took the decision in their stride, according to Lisbon lawyer Isabel Duarte. Photograph: Mario Cruz/EPA


An appeals court in Portugal has overturned the libel conviction of a former Portuguese detective who published a book alleging the parents of Madeleine McCann were involved in their daughter’s disappearance, the parents’ lawyer said.


Lisbon lawyer Isabel Duarte told Associated Press she was notified of the court’s decision to uphold Gonçalo Amaral’s appeal against the order to pay Kate and Gerry McCann €500,000 (£394,000) in compensation. That ruling was handed down by a lower court in Lisbon a year ago, prompting Amaral to appeal.


Duarte said she intended to fight the decision at the supreme court, though she had not yet assembled her legal arguments.


Amaral was part of the police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Algarve region in May 2007, days before her fourth birthday. In 2008 he published his book about the case called The Truth of the Lie.


Gonçalo Amaral poses with his book, whose title translates as The Truth of the Lies, during its 2008 launch in Lisbon. Photograph: Joao Henriques/AP


The McCanns sought €1.2m in damages from Amaral, saying they were “totally destroyed” and “depressed” by Amaral’s allegations, and felt “ashamed” that they might appear to have been to blame for their daughter’s disappearance.


Amaral had argued in his defence that his claims stemmed from the police investigation and that Portuguese media had already reported the possibility that the parents might have played a role in Madeleine’s disappearance.


The appeals court “decided that [Amaral] had the right to do what he did,” said Duarte. “It said he can write what he wants. It absolved him, said he didn’t have to pay anything.”


The lawyer said the McCanns took the reversal in their stride after a long time battling in Portuguese courts. “They’re used to it,” Duarte said.


Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 because authorities had detected no crime, but British police are still looking into it.


Detective chief superintendent Mick Duthie told London’s Evening Standard on Monday that Scotland Yard’s probe was ongoing and officers still hoped to find her alive.


In April the Home Office granted the investigation, called Operation Grange, £95,000 to cover another six months of the inquiry. This came after the number of officers working on the operation was scaled down from 29 to four in October 2015.

Duthie, who is head of Scotland Yard’s homicide and major crime command, said: “There is ongoing work. There is always a possibility that we will find Madeleine and we hope that we will find her alive.


“That’s what we want and that’s what the family and the public want and that is why the Home Office continue to fund it. There is work that needs to be done still.”



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