Kate McCann criticises Portuguese detective who wrote book

5 September 2008
Press Association National Newswire
Sam Marsden

Kate McCann has strongly criticised the Portuguese detective who named her and her husband Gerry as suspects in their daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

In the couple's first interview since they were formally cleared of involvement in the case, she attacked Goncalo Amaral's decision to write a book about the inquiry.

Mr Amaral, the former head of the investigation, made a series of allegations against the McCanns in The Truth About The Lie, which was published in Portugal six weeks ago

Portuguese prosecutors announced on July 21 that they were shelving the case and lifting Mr and Mrs McCann's status as "arguidos", or official suspects.

The couple made a brief statement at the time but have not spoken out at length until now.

In an interview to be published in the Portuguese newspaper Expresso tomorrow, the McCanns, both 40, from Rothley, Leicestershire, speak of their hopes for finding Madeleine and their fears of being arrested last summer.

A family friend said Mrs McCann was strongly critical of Mr Amaral when the interviewers asked her about the former detective's book.

A short video posted on Expresso's website shows the couple looking relaxed as they answer questions, both wearing the yellow wristbands of the official Find Madeleine campaign.

In the clip Mr McCann said: "I will be honest. We have got no idea whether Madeleine is alive or not. What we are certain of is that there is absolutely no evidence."

Asked if the couple feared being arrested or accused by Portuguese police over their daughter's disappearance, he said: "If you believe what was written in the papers, then of course we feared it.

"The situation for us was very frightening, of course it was."

Quizzed whether this was why they returned to the UK in September last year, Mrs McCann replied: "They could still have arrested us, couldn't they. They could have stopped us from going home."

Clarence Mitchell, the couple's official spokesman, said: "Kate and Gerry have chosen to speak out to an element of the Portuguese media now because they still firmly believe that there may well be important information that somebody knows in Portugal.

"It is important the message is targeted in that region initially, and Kate and Gerry will assess the reaction to their interview and public opinion in Portugal before deciding on whether to do any further media interviews in the near future.

"Everything Kate and Gerry are doing now is geared towards assisting their own investigation into finding Madeleine.

"They will do everything they can to generate vital new leads."

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year as her parents dined with friends nearby.

Despite a huge police investigation and massive coverage in the Portuguese and British media, she has not been found.


Meanwhile, a Portuguese police video showing British sniffer dogs reacting to the McCanns' hire car and in their holiday apartment was made public today.

The two specialist animals - one capable of detecting corpses and the other trained to find human blood - carried out searches in the Algarve in early August last year.

Footage posted on The Sun newspaper's website shows the cadaver dog, named Eddie, barking loudly next to the driver's door of the McCanns' Renault Scenic rental car.

It also shows the blood sniffer dog, called Keela, giving a "passive indication" behind the sofa in the apartment where Madeleine disappeared.

Handler Martin Grime says on the video: "She will find blood that's historically very old, and she will find anybody's blood - any human blood, which is important to make sure that everybody knows ...

"But she is very, very good and when she indicates there is always blood there."

As a result of the dogs' findings, samples were taken from the apartment and car and sent to the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service (FSS) for analysis.

The sniffer dog and DNA evidence were key in the Portuguese police's decision to name Mr and Mrs McCann as arguidos on September 7.

Official police files released last month showed that Mr Grime, a forensic canine expert, expressed caution about the dogs' findings.

In a report sent to Portuguese detectives in August last year, he noted that the animals only "alerted" to items associated with the McCanns, suggesting they had been contaminated with "cadaver scent".

But Mr Grime went on to warn: "This does not, however, suggest the motive or suspect as cross-contamination could be as a result of a number of given scenarios and, in any event, no evidential or intelligence reliability can be made from these alerts unless they can be confirmed with corroborating evidence."

Mr Mitchell said today: "Gerry and Kate are not interested in dwelling on past mistakes or any of the wild assumptions that were made by the Portuguese police.

"Rather they and their investigative team are entirely focusing on finding Madeleine.

"However, the dog handler himself makes it quite clear in the final police report that such dog alerts are meaningless without corroborating evidence. There was no such evidence.

"It is also worthwhile noting that when studied under controlled conditions, such dog alerts can prove to be notoriously unreliable."

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