The parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann lost an appeal against a Portuguese police officer who published a book suggesting the parents covered up the death of their young daughter, who was just shy of 4 years old at the time.
Kate and Gerry McCann had been fighting a reversal of their 2015 victory in a libel case against former police chief Goncalo Amaral, whose 2008 book Maddie: The Truth of Lie claims the McCanns were involved in Maddie’s 2007 disappearance, and invented a kidnapping story to cover up her accidental death.
Maddie McCann disappeared from the family’s vacation apartment at a Portuguese resort in May 2007, after her parents left Maddie and her siblings in the apartment while they dined with friends on the same property. For a period, Maddie’s parents were suspects in her disappearance, but were cleared when the Portuguese attorney general closed the inquiry in 2008.
Shortly after, Amaral, who had been part of the initial police investigation but was taken off the case while it was still active, published his book shortly thereafter. Maddie: The Truth of the Lie alleges that Maddie died accidentally while left unsupervised in the vacation rental, and that her parents hid her body while claiming the little girl had been kidnapped. The book sold over 200,000 copies and was reportedly translated into six languages.
In 2015, Kate and Gerry McCann won a libel claim against Amaral, and were awarded 500,000 euros — half of the million they had sued for. But that decision was later reversed in an appeals court — a reversal that was reportedly sustained in Portugal’s highest court this week. Multiple outlets have reported on the court’s ruling though a decision has not yet been published.
A Portuguese Supreme Court official told Fox News that the allegations put forth in Amaral’s book are protected by the country’s freedom of expression laws. Amaral will not have to pay damages, and the McCanns cannot sue him for libel. British authorities and Maddie’s parents are continuing to search for the girl.