Madeleine McCann was three years old when she went missing from Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. To this day, there is no certainty what happened to her.

McCanns ‘case against Portugal’ bombs

European Court of Human Rights rules ‘no violations on right to reputation or on presumption of innocence’

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann heard today that their case against Portugal – lodged at the European Court of Human Rights after their long-running  legal pursuit of former detective Gonçalo Amaral hit a brick wall – has also crashed into the buffers.

A statement from the court explains that the McCanns “alleged that there had been a violation of their right to reputation and to their right to be presumed innocent” in Mr Amaral’s book ‘Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira’, considered by the Portuguese court system as legitimate in terms of freedom of expression.

Says the statement: “The Court considered that, even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged, this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their being placed under investigation in the course of the criminal investigation (the prosecutor’s office decided to take no further action in July 2008) and had led to intense media attention and much controversy.

“The information had thus been brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published. 

“It followed that the national authorities had not failed in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life. 

“The Court also considered that in the Supreme Court’s judgments of January and March 2017 – concerning the civil claims lodged by the applicants – it had not made comments implying any guilt on the part of the applicants or even suggesting suspicions against them with regard to the circumstances in which their daughter had disappeared. 

“The applicants’ complaint concerning their right to be presumed innocent was thus manifestly ill-founded”.

According to press reports in the UK – where newspapers continue to erroneously suggest this is a judgement between the McCanns and Gonçalo Amaral – the couple now have three months to appeal against the decision.

At some point, the court costs this legal pursuit has involved will require to be paid. And if the decisions continue in the vein they have taken over the last six years, these costs will fall to the McCanns.

According to the Daily Mail last week, this “may involve them dipping into their Madeleine Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned account, which according to the latest accounts has a balance of  £931,500”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com