Sex offender's link to McCann case

Sir Clement Freud, a former British politician with links to the Madeleine McCann case, has been exposed as a paedophile who sexually abused girls as young as 10 for decades.

Freud, who died in 2009, spent years abusing a girl whom he brought up as a daughter, and violently raped a teenager while he was an MP.

His widow, Lady Freud, has apologised to his victims, saying she is "shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry" for what her husband of 58 years did to them.

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have been alerted to the fact that Freud had a villa in Praia da Luz, Portugal, the resort where the 3-year-old went missing in 2007.

He befriended the McCanns in the weeks after their daughter disappeared, entertaining them at his house on two occasions.

The McCanns are said to be horrified by the discovery that Freud was a paedophile. His family have said Freud was not in Portugal at the time of Madeleine's disappearance and that they have not been contacted by police.

However, officers from Operation Grange, the ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, are expected to assess the new information before deciding if it may be relevant to the inquiry.

Freud was unmasked as a child sex abuser after one of his victims contacted ITV's Exposure documentary team, who also broke the story of Jimmy Savile's paedophilia four years ago.

Sylvia Woosley said Freud befriended her family in 1948, when he was working at a hotel in the South of France, and started abusing her when she was 10. Four years later, following a family crisis, her mother asked Freud and his wife Jill if they would look after Mrs Woosley, and she found herself living under the same roof as her abuser, being brought up as a daughter. The abuse continued until she managed to move away when she was 19.

Another woman told ITV that Freud started abusing her in the 1970s, when she was 11, and eventually raped her when she was 18, by which time he was a Liberal MP sharing an office with Cyril Smith, who was also unmasked as a paedophile after his death.

Freud, knighted in 1987, was best known as a popular panellist on the Radio 4 show Just a Minute from 1967 until his death in 2009.

The grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the brother of the painter Lucian Freud, he worked his way into the heart of British society, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown attending his funeral.

A spokesman for the McCann family said they had not until now been aware of Freud's child abuse.

The Metropolitan Police did not respond to questions about Operation Grange, but former murder squad detective Colin Sutton said: "If this is something that investigators had not been aware of then it would be certainly a potential line of inquiry that would be worth pursuing."

Kate and Gerry McCann were two months into the search for Madeleine when they received a letter from Freud, inviting them for a meal at his holiday home in Praia da Luz.

"I'm usually very intimidated by people with brains the size of planets," Kate McCann wrote in her book, Madeleine, "but Clement was incredibly warm, funny and instantly likeable."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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