McCanns shouldn't have left the children alone, say police

14 January 2010
Daily Mail
Vanessa Allen

THE 'fairytale' of Madeleine McCann's abduction saved her parents from being charged with neglecting their children, it was claimed yesterday.

Kate and Gerry McCann did not face negligence charges because police were too 'distracted' by claims their daughter had been snatched, a former policeman said.

Francisco Moita Flores told the second day of the McCann libel case how police hadn't believed three-year-old Madeleine was abducted from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.

They were forced to investigate the theory because of the 'media circus' surrounding the case and the political pressure it created, the Portuguese court heard.

He suggested the couple should face neglect charges because they left their children sleeping while they went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

After yesterday's hearing a clearly angry Mr McCann conceded that he and his wife had been wrong to leave their children, but said mistakes had been made by all involved.

He said: 'We're not harking over mistakes which were made, and particularly mistakes that were made early on and cannot be redeemed.

'What is done cannot be righted;  in hindsight we made a mistake by leaving Madeleine and we have to live with the consequences of that. We can't change it.'

Earlier, Mr Moita Flores had told the court: 'No one believed it was an abduction. It was a fairytale, a fable. If the police only worked on that theory then they would be a bunch of idiots.'

He said he believed it would have been impossible for an abductor to break into the McCanns' apartment and carry away Madeleine.

'The McCanns should be judged for the neglect of their children. In Portugal this is huge negligence,' he said.

'The accusation was not made. Justice was distracted. How could they not be accused?'

Mr Moita Flores did not work on the investigation and had already left the Portuguese police when Madeleine, right, disappeared in May 2007.

But he was giving evidence on behalf of Goncalo Amaral, the detective accused of libelling the McCanns in his bestselling book, Maddie: The Truth of the Lie.

Madeleine's parents took legal action against Mr Amaral over accusations they faked their daughter's abduction to cover up her death while on a family holiday.

They won a court injunction banning the sale of the book worldwide and preventing him from repeating the allegations.

But the injunction did not stop him from publishing a second book in December, called The English Gag.

The libel case has provided the police officers who investigatedthe McCanns with a public platform on which to air their suspicions.

Unlike a criminal trial, the detectives have not had to provide evidence to support their allegations.

Mr McCann, 41, left Portugal last night to return to his job as a hospital heart consultant.

His wife, also 41, a former GP who has not returned to work since Madeleine's disappearance, is expected to stay in Lisbon until the end of the court hearing.

The latest courtroom accusations came as Mr Amaral was forced to deny claims he had launched a foul-mouthed attack on the McCanns.

The 50-year-old was caught on camera as he was asked if his book had hurt the couple, and appeared to snarl: 'No, **** the McCanns.'

His outburst was shown by the BBC's regional news programme in the East Midlands, which bleeped out the offending word.

A source said producers were convinced he had sworn, but lawyers for the detective denied he had spoken in English.

His lawyer Antonio Cabrita said: 'I have never heard him use that kind of language.' Asked if he had made the comment, Mr Amaral, 50, replied: 'Never.'

The detective is believed to face financial ruin if the McCanns succeed in their £1million libel action.

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