Kate and Gerry McCann win injunction case

Special Report by CHRIS GRAEME at the Lisbon Civil Court

The final decision to uphold an injunction to prohibit the publication of a book claiming that Kate and Gerry McCann tried to cover up the tragic death of their daughter Madeleine in an Algarve holiday apartment in May 2007 was made by a Lisbon Court today (Thursday, February 18).

The session, held behind closed doors in the morning, lasted little more than half-an-hour, yet the smiling face of the McCanns’ lawyer on emerging from the closed session said it all.

Isabel Duarte, whose normally ice-blue eyes and stern expression before the world’s media have been a hallmark throughout this injunction case, lit up with smiles as she silently hugged supporters, friends and colleagues outside the Legal Secretary’s Office of the 7th Chamber of Lisbon’s Civil Court.

“The judge’s decision upholds absolutely the first decision (i.e. the first court injunction). The book and the video can neither be reproduced nor sold, neither can Gonçalo Amaral, TVi, Valentim de Carvalho Films or publishers Guerra e Paz reproduce or give interviews or statements about the thesis defended in the book,” said Isabel Duarte outside the court house.  

“The book will remain retained (in storage) and the prohibition to divulge Gonçalo Amaral’s thesis is still in place. They cannot give interviews or publish books that promote the thesis,” she stressed.

Gonçalo Amaral said this was a bad day for freedom of expression in Portugal.
Gonçalo Amaral said this was a bad day for freedom of expression in Portugal.

“Today, the decision was upheld because the book was deemed to have violated the rights of Madeleine and the children, and the good name of the McCanns. It’s a decision that was very extensive but we have not been able to read all of the documentation yet and we are still very much dealing with last minute events,” she said.

Isabel Duarte confirmed that although the ban was “total”, it was not a “definitive decision” although it was “a very extensive one”.

“This is only a confirmation of the first decision. The definitive decision will only be made in a main legal (defamation) action that is still (lodged) in the court.”

The lawyer also added that the judge had made no significant changes to the first ruling but had made some fine tuning adjustments in the Portuguese legal wording to the initial decision to prohibit publication or dissemination of Gonçalo Amaral’s thesis.  

“I would like to say that this decision is one that protects all Portuguese citizens because the decision says that you cannot harm in this way the reputation and good name of a citizen that is not convicted in court. This is a decision that is a victory for every one involved,” adding that the case was initiated “without any other intention than to help the continued search for Kate and Gerry’s daughter”. But “in truth, this decision states to all of us that a person’s rights cannot be violated and injured in the way that they were because of this book and video film”.

Kate McCann immediately sent a text message to Isabel Duarte, which the Algarve Resident read and which opened with the words “you are amazing”.

“I sent a text message straight away to my clients saying that ‘we had won’,” the lawyer said.

“My client (Kate McCann) sent me a message which states: ‘Dear Isabel, You are Amazing! Thank you so much! Pass my thanks on to Jorge and Ricardo (the legal assistants). Hopefully this will be the start of good things for Madeleine. We are so pleased. Thank you. Big Hug. Kate.’”

The couple were also said to be “pleased and relieved” at the decision to uphold the ban and in a statement issued immediately after the ruling, Kate and Gerry McCann said: “By upholding the injunction against Gonçalo Amaral’s book and DVD, the judge has rightly agreed that there has been significant, ongoing damage to the search for our beloved daughter Madeleine and to the rights of our family.

“We are grateful to the judge for accepting that this injustice must not continue. The court case has demonstrated, once again, that there is no evidence that Madeleine has come to any harm.

“It has also clearly shown that no police force is actively looking for Madeleine, even, shockingly, when they are presented with new information and leads. As painful and personally damaging as the slanderous claims of Mr Amaral and his supporters have been to us and our family, our primary focus has always been, and will always be, to find Madeleine through our own best investigative efforts.”

With regards to reopening the police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance from the Ocean View holiday apartments in Praia da Luz on the night of May, 3, 2007, the lawyer said: “We have, since last week, been selecting documents that we brought with us from Portimão, because there are documents which are of no interest at all and others that are.

“We will sift through the documents, select them and meet with my colleagues in the United Kingdom, probably in the coming week,” she added, calling the decision a “just one” because “my clients don’t know where Madeleine is” and “every day there are blogs and articles stating that my clients are liars and that they were involved in some way.”

Gonçalo Amaral called the decision a “disappointing one” but said that it was just a “setback” and not the end of the story. Stating that he would now appeal against the decision in the courts, he said that it was a bad day for “freedom of expression in Portugal”, which was “rather disturbing, very serious and worrying”.

“This decision calls into questions and limits my freedom of expression, and my legal team will examine the arguments and we will move forward with an appeal,” he said.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]