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Madeleine relatives launch fighting fund

Original Source: GUARDIAN: 16 MAY 2007
Fred Attewill and agencies Wednesday May 16, 2007 Guardian Unlimited
A fighting fund intended to help secure the return of the missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann was launched as her family thanked the public for their support today.
The site enables people to donate money online to help the search, which is now approaching its second week.

Robert Murat, a 33-year-old estate agent, was questioned by police as a formal suspect, but released after the detective running the investigation said there was not enough evidence to charge him. However, he will not be allowed to leave Portugal and must report to police regularly.

Madeleine's family held a press conference in Leicester to launch the fund, attended by colleagues of her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, and the former England and Leicester Tigers rugby captain Martin Johnson.

"We want Madeleine back," her uncle, John McCann, said. "A lot of people have offered help in different ways, and this fund will help our family to get our darling wee niece back.

"If, as a result of this fund, we are successful in getting Madeleine back and we can help other families in a similar situation, that would be fantastic."

Dr Doug Skehan, colleague of Gerry McCann, paid a warm tribute to him and his wife. They remain in the Portuguese resort of Praia Da Luz, where their daughter disappeared on May 3.

"They have become very successful doctors in our community," he said, adding that staff at Leicester's hospitals had donated 10,000 in the last day.

"It was very much part of daily conversation to learn of their family. It has been a very great shock to all of us when we learned of Madeleine's abduction."

Johnson said Madeleine's disappearance had "touched everyone", adding: "As a parent, it really does hit home."

Madeleine's great uncle, Brian Kennedy, thanked the public for their "moving" support which had helped "keep her parent spirits up."

Tonight, video images of the missing child will be broadcast at half-time in the Uefa Cup final between Sevilla and Espanyol, being played at Hampden Park, in Glasgow.

A two-minute film, Find Madeleine, will be screened in an attempt to raise awareness of the case among visiting fans from the two Spanish teams.

Leaflets with pictures of the youngster, who was abducted in Portugal nearly a fortnight ago, will also be placed on seats at the stadium.

Earlier today, Gordon Brown told Madeleine's family that he was prepared to help "in any way he can".

Her aunt, Philomena McCann, met the chancellor while in Westminster lobbying MPs for support, and said: "It's been extremely helpful and I'm very grateful to Gordon Brown for taking the time to listen to us. "

Mr Brown said the government would continue to urge the Portuguese authorities to keep the investigation at "maximum intensity".


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