Madeleine McCann’s parents have lost a court battle over a former Portuguese detective’s suggestions that they were responsible for their daughter’s disappearance.

Gerry and Kate McCann brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over a book, documentary and newspaper interview by Gonçalo Amaral.

Mr Amaral, who worked on the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007, suggested in his book Truth of the Lie that the youngster’s parents had been involved.

Madeleine’s parents alleged his statements damaged their reputation and breached their rights to respect for their private life and to be presumed innocent.

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The couple’s complaint also said Portugal’s supreme court had failed to allow them proper redress over alleged libel by Mr Amaral, after judges threw out their claim in 2017.

The ECHR on Tuesday ruled there had been no violation of Article 8, the right to respect for private and family life, of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court found the couple’s reputation had been damaged by the fact they were made official suspects in the case for a short time, rather than by Mr Amaral’s comments.

The court said in its ruling: “The court considered that, even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged, this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their being placed under investigation in the course of the criminal investigation (the prosecutor’s office decided to take no further action in July 2008) and had led to intense media attention and much controversy.

The ECHR found the Kate and Gerry McCann’s reputation had been damaged by the fact they were made official suspects in the case for a short time, rather than by former Portuguese detective’s comments

(Joe Giddens/PA)

“The information had thus been brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published.

“It followed that the national authorities had not failed in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.”

The McCanns now have three months to appeal the decision.

Madeleine, then aged three, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007 as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral (pictured here in 2013) suggested in his book Truth of the Lie that the youngster’s parents had been involved in her disappearance

(Ellen Branagh/PA)

Mr Amaral, who led the initial investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, released the book days after the case was closed in 2008 and later took part in a documentary for Portuguese television, and conducted media interviews.

Earlier this year, German investigators found new evidence against the prime suspect in her disappearance, a prosecutor reviled in an interview on Portuguese television.

Convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner was declared a suspect in the case by Portuguese officials in April as a 15-year legal deadline approached, and he has been under investigation by German officials for two years.


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