Madeleine McCann's parents launch complaint against Portugal Supreme Court

Kate and Gerry McCann hold an age-progressed police image of their daughter. Photo  / Getty Images
Kate and Gerry McCann hold an age-progressed police image of their daughter. Photo / Getty Images

Missing Madeleine McCann's parents have accused the Supreme Court judges who ruled against them in their court fight with ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral of nonsensical 'contradictions.'

Furious Gerry and Kate made it clear through lawyers that they strongly disagreed with the judges' 'erroneous' premise the lifting of their status as 'arguidos' or formal suspects did not mean they were innocent of any involvement in their daughter's May 3 2007 disappearance.

Portugal's Supreme Court issued its devastating put-down earlier this month when it backed Amaral over his hurtful 2008 book 'The Truth of the Lie' in which he claimed the McCanns faked Madeleine's abduction to cover up her death in their Algarve holiday apartment.

Judges angered the McCanns by claiming the July 2008 archiving of the first Portuguese probe into their daughter's disappearance "was determined by the fact that public prosecutors hadn't managed to obtain sufficient evidence of the practice of crimes" by them, the Daily Mail reports

The couple's fight-back was laid out in a nine-page complaint revealed today, which was lodged with the Supreme Court last Friday in a bid to invalidate its ruling rejecting the McCanns' libel appeal against Amaral and the makers of a TV documentary based on his book.

The document, drafted by the McCanns' Portuguese lawyer Isabel Duarte and and her colleague Ricardo Correia, says: "The appellants understand the archiving of the case took place because during the inquiry, sufficient evidence had been collected to show the 'arguidos' had not committed any crime."

They said the removal of the McCanns' 'arguido' status had legally binding connotations and claimed the Supreme Court judges' argument 'lacked foundation and could be easily altered.'

Accusing them of acting 'frivolously' and contradicting themselves with their statements about the reasons for the 2008 probe archive, they added: "It cannot be stated that it is not acceptable that the archiving of the case is considered the equivalent to proof of innocence."

Mrs Duarte confirmed at the weekend the McCanns had lodged a formal complaint against the latest court ruling, although she declined to go into detail about why and how they were fighting it.

It was unclear today if another set of Supreme Court judges would deal with complaints about rulings - or if they would be handed to another judicial body to review.

Amaral was ordered to pay the McCanns £430,000 by a Lisbon court in April 2015 after they won round one of their lengthy judicial battle over his book and a subsequent TV documentary.

The former police chief got that ruling - and a ban on selling his book - overturned on appeal in April last year.

The decision by Lisbon's Court of Appeal sparked the Supreme Court fight which was resolved on January 31.

The full 76-page ruling which sparked the new legal challenge by the McCanns was released just under a week later.

Missing British toddler Madeleine McCann. Photo / Supplied
Missing British toddler Madeleine McCann. Photo / Supplied

Judges made it clear in their decision their job was not to decide whether the McCanns bore any criminal responsibility over their daughter's disappearance and it would be wrong for anyone to draw any inferences about the couple's guilt or innocence from their ruling.

But they added: "It should not be said that the appellants were cleared via the ruling announcing the archiving of the criminal case.

"In truth, that ruling was not made in virtue of Portugal's Public Prosecution Service having acquired the conviction that the appellants hadn't committed a crime.

"The archiving of the case was determined by the fact that public prosecutors hadn't managed to obtain sufficient evidence of the practice of crimes by the appellants.

"There is therefore a significant, and not merely a semantic difference, between the legally admissible foundations of the archive ruling.

"It doesn't therefore seem acceptable that the ruling, based on the insufficiency of evidence, should be equated to proof of innocence."

They added, highlighting the McCanns' Tapas Nine friend Jane Tanner's much-questioned sighting of the suspected 'abductor': 'It's true that the aforementioned criminal inquiry ended up being archived, namely because none of the apparent evidence that led to the appellants being made 'arguidos' was subsequently confirmed or consolidated.

"However even the archive ruling raises serious concerns relating to the truth of the allegation that Madeleine was kidnapped."

The Supreme Court judges said the McCanns claimed Amaral's book and the TV documentary based on the book formed no part of case files made public in 2008 and would have damaged the honour and good name of any "innocent person who had been cleared through the shelving of the criminal investigation."

But they stated: "We consider the invocation of the violation of the principle of innocence should not be taken into account here, since this issue is not relevant to the resolution of the question that needs to be decided here."

They said the 'crucial question' for them was how to resolve the rights of Kate and Gerry McCann to their 'good name and reputation' and the rights of Goncalo Amaral and the other respondents including the book editors to the constitutionally enshrined right of
"freedom of expression."

Concluding Amaral had not acted 'illicitly,' they ruled his book was not a personal and unjustified attack on the McCanns with a 'defamatory intention' behind it which would not be protected by freedom of speech rights.

Describing the book and the TV documentary based on it as an 'opinion' based on the logic of facts and evidence contained in the criminal case files, they added: 'Our opinion is that rather than an injurious animus, the intention was informative and defensive.'

The Supreme Court ruling meant Amaral was spared having to pay the McCanns the compensation he was ordered to hand them after the first court ruling in 2015.

The payment was frozen when he launched his successful appeal.

Earlier this month it emerged the ex detective, removed as head of the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance after criticising British detectives, was writing a new book about the unsolved mystery.

It is understood he will be critical in the new book of some of the things Scotland Yard did in their review and later ongoing investigation of the case.

The former cop insisted from day one of his court fight with the McCanns that everything he wrote in his book was based on the publicly available case files.

Kate and Gerry, both 48, of Rothley, Leicestershire, have said they will sue if The Truth of the Lie is sold in Britain.

They said in a statement after learning of the Supreme Court ruling against them: 'What we have been told by our lawyers is obviously extremely disappointing.

"It is eight years since we brought the action, and in that time the landscape has changed dramatically, namely there is now a joint Metropolitan Police and Policia Judiciaria investigation which is what we have always wanted.

"The police in both countries continue to work on the basis that there is no evidence Madeleine has come to physical harm.

"We will of course be discussing the implications of the Supreme Court ruling with our lawyers in due course."

It is believed the McCanns are discussing the possibility of taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The 20,000 page 'Madeleine files' made public in 2008 contained a report by public prosecutors which said:' No element of proof whatsoever was found which allows us to form any lucid, sensible, serious and honest conclusion about the circumstance of Madeleine's disappearance from the apartment...including, and most dramatically, establishing whether she is alive or dead, which seems more probable."

Referring to the McCanns' much criticised decision to leave their daughter, then three, alone with younger siblings Sean and Amelie while they ate tapas nearby, it added: "We must also recognise that the parents are paying a heavy penalty over the disappearance of Madeleine for their carelessness in monitoring and protecting their children."

Portuguese police chiefs said late last year they were 'completely in tune' with British detectives still investigating Madeleine's disappearance, appearing to end years of tension between the two forces whose theories on the youngster's fate have differed wildly.

Portuguese prosecutors reopened their probe into Madeleine McCann's disappearance in May 2014, and are now working in close coordination with Scotland Yard's scaled-down Operation Grange probe into Madeleine's fate.

- Daily Mail

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