A book written by the disgraced former detective who led the initial investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann had a "devastating" effect on the search, a court in Lisbon has heard.
It also heaped extra suffering on Kate and Gerry McCann as they struggled to clear their name and continue the search for their missing daughter, close friends of the couple told a court yesterday at the start of a libel trial against Goncalo Amaral.
"I watched them suffer these untruths and waste a lot precious energy trying to defend themselves when they could have been spending all that energy looking for Madeleine," said Susan Hubbard (46) the wife of the Anglican priest in Praia da Luz who became close to the McCanns following the disappearance of their daughter in May 2007.
"The fact that all these people believed she was dead was devastating to the search for her on top of the thought that people could believe her parents had something to do with it," she said.
The McCanns are suing Mr Amaral, who led the initial Madeleine investigation for six months until he was dismissed from the case, for £1m (€1.2m) in damages. They are also suing the publishers of the book and the makers of a documentary based on it.
Penned by Mr Amaral and entitled 'The Truth of the Lie', the book suggested the theory that the McCanns had staged an abduction to cover up the fact that Madeleine had accidentally died in the Praia da Luz holiday apartment due to their negligence.
The book also served as the basis of a "documentary" broadcast on Portuguese TV.
Emma Loach, the daughter of director Ken Loach, also appeared as a witness on the first day of the civil trial, after befriending the couple while she made a documentary about them. She said that following publication of the book, the McCanns were swamped by "a massive tidal waves of lies".
She added that the book was of great concern as to the effect it may have on the McCanns's younger children.
By Fiona Govan in Lisbon
(© Daily Telegraph, London)