MADELEINE McCann’s parents fear their quest to silence the former Portuguese police chief who accused the couple of being involved in their daughter’s disappearance will be hindered by Brexit delays.
Kate and Gerry appealed to the European Court of Human Rights more than two years ago, but now believe their case will drag on “indefinitely”.
Kate and Gerry McCann have vowed to keep searching for their daughter[/caption]
Madeleine disappeared in 2007 while on a family holiday in Portugal[/caption]
Amaral with his controversial 2008 book ‘The Truth of the Lie’[/caption]
The couple’s last ditch appeal is still “under consideration” and “no timeframe has yet been fixed for its examination” an official has said.
Their battle against Goncalo Amaral, 59, who originally led the probe into their daughter’s disappearance, has raged for more than a decade.
The former cop has spouted multiple theories about what happened to Madeleine, including implicating her parents in her death and accusing the pair of faking her abduction.
Family spokesperson Clarence Mitchell said last night: “They are exasperated by this and want to draw a line under it all.”
A close pal of the couple added: “It just drags on and on and causes them even more anguish.
“It could be several years or more before they get an outcome. It’s indefinite.
“It’s never been about seeking damages but simply trying to stop lies and malicious accusations being spouted.
“It doesn’t help that Brexit is still hanging in the balance and could be having a negative effect on European judicial as well as business affairs.”
Maddie’s parents’ civil fight against shamed ex Portuguese officer Goncalo Amaral has been going on for ten years.
After winning, then losing on appeal, they lodged an application with the ECHR in Strasbourg, France, in July 2017.
The court declined to say if the Brexit furore has had any impact on the delay in British applications being heard.
Of Maddie’s parents appeal a spokesperson said: “It is impossible to speculate on how long it will take the court to examine this application.
“It varies depending on many factors and the court takes into account the importance and urgency of the issues.
“But for now it’s just one of almost 57,000 applications pending – more than a fifth of them from Russians.
“The case is under consideration and no timeframe has been fixed as to the examination of its admissibility.”
In March it was revealed that Kate and Gerry had already forked out £24,000 in legal fees to the ‘tormentor’ ex cop with a further £5,500 still due.
But so far no damages for hurt feelings have been settled by either side.
Under Portuguese libel law, compensation is only paid at the very end of court proceedings – although a successful party can demand costs before.
The latest setback for the couple from Rothley, Leics, comes after British police were given an extra £300,000 to keep the search for their daughter going.
The welcome Government boost for the couple means the investigation, which has cost taxpayers a massive £11.75 million, will last until the end of March next year.
BATTLE AGAINST AMARAL
Kate and Gerry first issued a writ against Mr Amaral for libel in June 2009 after he claimed in his best seller 2008 book ‘The Truth of the Lie’ that Maddie had died accidentally and they had faked her abduction.
He suggested that the youngster’s body may have been hidden in a Brit woman’s coffin as she was cremated in the Luz church the McCann’s had been given keys for to pray in private at any hour.
In 2015 Mr Amaral, who led the initial bungled hunt for Maddie before being thrown off the case, was ordered by a Lisbon court to pay the couple £360,000 in damages with interest of at least £76,000 for his alleged slurs which the McCann’s described as “false, malicious, defamatory and hurtful”.
They also said his accusations could hamper the worldwide hunt for Maddie because if people believed she was dead they would stop searching.
Their Portuguese lawyer Isabel Duarte said at the time: “This is the news we have been waiting for after six long years.
“We were always confident of a victory but in recent months had a few doubts. But the fact that Mr Amaral has now been silenced is very good news.
“It was never about the money. It was about stopping awful lies, which hindered the search for Madeleine, being printed. I now hope and pray that they can find their daughter.”
But retired detective Mr Amaral, 59, successfully appealed the decision before any money exchanged hands.
The country’s Supreme Court found against the McCann’s in January 2017, stating in their 76-page ruling that they had not ‘successfully proved their innocence’ and with compensation due to Mr Amaral.
After careful consideration the devastated couple lodged an appeal six months later with the ECHR in the final round of their battle.
More than two years on, the application by eminent heart doctor Gerry and former GP turned medical worker Kate, both 51 – simply titled ‘Appeal McCann & Healy v Portugal’ under Maddie’s dad’s name and mum’s maiden name – remains in the huge pending pile.
Goncarlo Amaral claimed Kate and Gerry McCann faked the abduction of their daughter[/caption]
The ECHR spokesperson said that if an application is not declared inadmissible the court, on further examination, would make a judgment that either “there has been no violation of the Convention or a person’s rights have been violated”.
She added: “If it does find a violation it may award that person compensation.”
If the McCann’s eventually win their appeal and are awarded damages any payout would go into the public Find Maddie Fund – which now stands at about £750,000 – to continue the search for their daughter when the controversial police inquiry Operation Grange is shelved.
However, if they lose and damages with increasing interest and potential further costs are given to Mr Amaral it could wipe out the entire fund.
A pal said: “If this happened it would be a bitter blow but Kate and Gerry would keep their heads up and carry on searching. There can be no more appeals by either side. This one is the final challenge but they have no idea when it will be heard.”
During a TV interview to mark the milestone 10th anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance in May 2017 BBC presenter Fiona Bruce asked the McCanns: “One of the police officers in Portugal has been a thorn in your side for many years, he was thrown off the investigation but then he wrote a book and you fought it through the courts.
“At the moment you’ve lost and he’s won. Is this the end for you now, are you going to continue to fight him?”
Gerry replied: “I think the short answer is we have to because the last judgment I think is terrible.
“I think it’s also important to say that when we lodged the action it was eight years ago, and the circumstances were very different, where we felt there was real damage being done to the search for Madeleine at that time, particularly in Portugal.”
Agreeing that Mr Amaral’s claims needed to be challenged, Kate said: “I find it all incomprehensible to be honest.
“It has been very upsetting, and it has caused a lot of frustration and anger which is a real negative emotion.”
Three-year-old Maddie vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in May 2007 while her parents were dining in a nearby tapas restaurant with pals.
They cling onto a glimmer of hope she could still be alive. She would now be aged 16.#
Gerry and Kate still believe their daughter could be found alive[/caption]
Madeleine McCann was nearly three years old when she disappeared in Praia da Luz[/caption]
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