Kate McCann 'confident' of winning Madeleine libel case

15 January 2010
Guardian Unlimited
John Stevens

'It's difficult to hear something incorrect and inaccurate,' she says of ex-detective's claim that McCanns faked daughter's abduction

Kate McCann said today she was confident of winning the libel action over claims that her daughter Madeleine is dead.

As she arrived at court in Lisbon she admitted that listening to claims that she faked Madeleine's abduction was difficult, but said nothing could be as bad as losing her child.

It is the third day of the trial in Portugal, where the McCanns are seeking permanently to ban a book written by former policeman Goncalo Amaral and £1.1m in compensation for defamation.

Entering the court, Mrs McCann said: "If I'm honest, our daughter's been taken and nothing's ever going to be as bad as that. It's still been difficult, it's been emotive, because I know what's in the case files, I know what the conclusions are. So it's difficult to hear something that's incorrect and inaccurate. At the bottom of all this is a little girl and I think it's important that we don't forget that."

Asked if she believed the McCanns would win their case against Amaral, she said: "I am confident, yes."

McCann and her husband, Gerry, have sat through two days of hearings in which Amaral, who initially led the investigation into their daughter's death, has called a series of senior Portuguese officials to support his allegation that Madeleine, who was three when she disappeared, died in her family's holiday flat in May 2007.

Chief Inspector Tavares de Almeida told the court on Tuesday he believed the McCanns invented a kidnapping to cover up the death of their daughter. Yesterday former detective Francisco Moita Flores also dismissed the couple's claim that Madeleine was abducted, saying the McCanns' challenge to claims Madeleine was dead was "pathetic".

Mr McCann flew back to Britain last night to return to work. His wife was accompanied to court today by Fiona Payne, one of the "Tapas Seven" group of friends who were on holiday with the McCanns in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when their daughter disappeared.

Amaral's lawyer, Antonio Cabrita, has denied that the former detective said "fuck the McCanns" in response to a question from a BBC reporter about whether his book was hurting the couple. A BBC spokesman said the reply was clear in the exchange, which was entirely recorded on camera.

Today the court is hearing evidence from producers of a TV documentary based on Amaral's book. The case will then be adjourned until 10 February, when the judge will hear from two witnesses not available this week.

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