News from a UK tabloid that the parents of Madeleine McCann are banking on money donated to the Find Madeleine Fund to pursue former PJ policeman Gonçalo Amaral through the courts has caused a major stir on social media – not least because the couple vowed in 2007 that this could never happen.
A report in Sky News said nine years ago that trustees had announced that “Money from the Find Madeleine campaign will not be used to fund Kate and Gerry McCann’s legal costs”..
Sky went on to affirm that the McCanns “had already said they would not use the cash – more than £1 m – to pay any legal bills, even if the trust had let them”.
But according to Jerry Lawton of the Daily Star, this has all now changed.
Forging ahead with an expensive appeal against the decision by three Appellate judges in April to exonerate Amaral (click here), the McCanns are effectively going for broke, explains Lawton.
They have been ordered to pay both their own and Amaral’s court costs, he said, but this will clearly be suspended while their new “legal bid to silence the former detective” is considered by Portugal’s Supreme Court.
“If they lose, the legal bill could wipe out the Find Madeleine Fund set up using public donations to help the search for their daughter”, Lawton warns.
A friend of the couple confirmed the situation, saying the parents from Rothley have been left “exasperated”.
“If they lose there will be a big legal bill to pay”, said the friend – confirming the money would have to “come from the fund set up to find Madeleine”.
Commentators who feel the coordinator of the original police investigation was well within his rights to freedom of expression to pen his damning book “Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira (The Truth of the Lie)” are beside themselves.
Retweeting the link to Lawton’s story, the consensus on social media is that the couple is prepared to use money that was not donated to fund court battles.
“This is misuse of funds”, a source writing into the Resident has complained.
Even though Amaral’s defence has been funded by donations (click here), the source said this was very different to the situation of the McCanns.
“The difference is that Amaral’s money was donated specifically for his legal costs and for no other purpose”, said the source.
“The Madeleine Fund is specifically for the search for Madeleine, and the directors said at one point that it could not be used for legal expenses”.
Former trustee and one-time GMTV presenter Esther McVey – who only a few months later resigned from the Fund and went on to become a Conservative MP – said the decision was taken despite the fact that “it would be legally permissible to use the money for a legal defence”.
There was a “spirit which underlies the generous donations to Madeleine’s fund”, she explained in 2007, and it was this spirit that trustees had the “responsibility to steer”.
The row is exacerbating an already difficult time for the McCanns: an ‘old chestnut’ from the past, South African Stephen Birch has resurfaced on social media to launch a crowd-funding appeal to buy the Praia da Luz home where, he claims, Madeleine’s remains lie buried under the driveway.