Amaral supporters plough last-minute money into legal fund as UK focuses on alleged Maddie fraud

While the gofundme appeal buoying “Maddie cop” Gonçalo Amaral in his legal fight against the parents of Madeleine McCann is being temporarily wound down in Portugal, in UK news this week centres on an alleged fraud within the fund set up to find the missing child.

According to the Sun newspaper, whistleblowers have presented damning evidence pointing to a “person connected to the hunt” for Madeleine using “public donations to fund his own lifestyle”.

The Find Madeleine Fund has consequently been “ripped off” to the tune of over £100,000 – which Portuguese newspapers have translated as “almost €139,000”.

With the story echoing a similar fraud uncovered years ago and centring on a private detective hired by the McCanns, this latest UK-generated Madeleine story follows a weekend exposé in the Sunday People, again covering ancient ground.

In Portugal meantime, the friends and supporters of Amaral have decided to pull the gofundme online appeal launched six months ago by a single mother from Birmingham who was only 14 when Madeleine went missing.

The last donations are still flowing in before the page is to be officially closed on Wednesday, October 28, having raised in excess of €73,000.

The official reason for closure was that supporters felt there was “largely sufficient” in the fund’s account to “face eventual future expenses”.

A source has since confirmed to the Resident that other forms of fundraising remain open, as the way ahead will almost certainly involve further appeals.

For now, the decision by judges at Lisbon’s Appellate Court on Amaral’s appeal against the €500,000-plus damages awarded against him in the civil action taken out by the McCanns over his book “A Verdade da Mentira” is due any day.

But the source explained to us that if the appeal is upheld – that is, if Amaral “wins” and at last sees his assets unfrozen after six years of litigation – “the McCanns will almost certainly appeal”.

“The next step would be an appeal to the Supreme Court, and then even to the Constitutional Court,” said the source.

And should Amaral lose the fight, which he feels centres on his right to freedom of expression, then a new online appeal will be needed to fund a case against Portuguese justice in the European Court of Human Rights.

As the Resident explained six months ago when 22-year-old Leanne Baulch set up the gofundme page, the British tabloid press vilified the bid, saying it was powered by “sick online trolls”.

Unpleasantness continued to the point where Ms Baulch – the single parent of a toddler – removed herself from the process altogether.

It was then that the page transferred to the friends of Amaral. But the unpleasantness is understood to have continued, with internet manipulation of the appeal’s online code so that a few weeks ago it virtually disappeared from sight.

In their announcement to the 2,791 subscribers sent out last Thursday, the group writing collectively said: “May we use this moment to wholeheartedly thank those who have expressed their support for Gonçalo Amaral’s right to an appropriate defence. Whether you have contributed financially or by sending a support message, you have made an impact. You have made a difference.”

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo by: LUSA