Madeleine McCann's parents attack Portuguese judges for acting 'frivolously' in ruling over ex-police chief

Madeleine McCann's parents have accused the judges who ruled against them in their court fight with an ex-police chief of acting "frivolously" and claimed their argument "lacked foundation".

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

Portugal's Supreme Court earlier this month backed former detective Goncalo Amaral over his 2008 book The Truth of the Lie, in which he alleged 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 investigation 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 couple's response was laid out in a nine-page complaint revealed on Tuesday that 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, said: "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 that it could be easily altered "lacked foundation".

Accusing them of acting "frivolously" and contradicting themselves with their statements about the reasons for the archiving of the 2008 investigation, 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 the case.

Amaral was ordered to pay the McCanns £430,000 by a Lisbon court in April 2015 after they won the first round 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 that sparked the new legal challenge by the McCanns was later released.

Judges made it clear in their decision their job was not to decide whether or not 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."

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.

The McCanns, 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.

Disappearance of Madeleine McCann

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