Madeleine McCann’s parents have lost a court battle over allegations made by a former Portuguese detective that they were responsible for their daughter’s disappearance.
Gerry and Kate McCann filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding Gonçalo Amaral’s book, documentary, and newspaper interview.
In his book Truth of the Lie, Mr. Amaral, who worked on the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007, suggested that the youngster’s parents were involved.
Madeleine’s parents claimed that his comments harmed their reputation and violated their rights to privacy and to be presumed innocent.
According to the couple’s complaint, Portugal’s Supreme Court failed to provide them with proper redress for alleged libel by Mr. Amaral after judges dismissed their claim in 2017.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that there had been no violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to respect for private and family life).
The court determined that the couple’s reputation was harmed more by the fact that they were made official suspects in the case for a short time than by Mr. Amaral’s comments.
“The court considered that even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been harmed, this was not due to the argument advanced 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 scrutiny,” the court said in its ruling.
“The information was thus brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made public and the book in question was published.”
“It followed that the national authorities had not failed to meet their positive obligation to protect the applicant’s right to privacy.”
The McCanns now have three months to file an appeal.
On 3 May 2007, Madeleine, then three years old, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.
Mr. Amaral, who led the initial investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, published the book just days after the case was closed in 2008, and he later appeared in a documentary for Portuguese television and gave media interviews.
German investigators discovered new evidence against the prime suspect in her disappearance earlier this year, a prosecutor revealed in an interview with Portuguese television.
Convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner was named a suspect in the case by Portuguese authorities in April, as a 15-year legal deadline approached, and he has been the subject of a two-year investigation by German authorities.