Former relations adviser to Gerry and Kate McCann, Justine McGuinness, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers.
Justine McGuinness, who spent three months working for the Find Madeleine fund, is suing over a story in The People in October 2007 which she said was defamatory.
The front page story, headed: “Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k” was also published on the paper’s website.
In her writ, she says the story suggested she had deliberately “ripped off” the fund by overcharging the McCanns for expenses to which she was not entitled and inflating her overtime.
She said the story claimed that, because of this, she was immediately forced to quit by the fund, although she had persuaded the McCanns to conceal this as the true reason for the end of her employment.
Justine McGuinness, who runs Pineapple Consultants, said the story seriously injured her reputation and caused her considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
She said the allegations struck at the heart of her personal and professional reputation, casting serious doubt on her honesty and integrity, and were deeply offensive to her as they accused her of “cheating” a worthwhile and high-profile cause.