Wednesday 26 June 2019

McCanns' agony at 'body in fridge' slur Parents dismiss new police claim in Maddy mystery as 'hurtful'

THE parents of Madeleine McCann have called for an end to the "hurtful" smear campaign after sensational new claims that her mother hid her corpse in a fridge after accidentally killing her.

Tomorrow is the 150th day since Madeleine disappeared. Kate and Gerry McCann will attend a church service near their home in Rothley, Leceistershire, but there will be no special event to generate publicity.

It was claimed yesterday that police in Portugal now believe that Kate McCann killed Madeleine while putting her to bed at their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz between 7pm and 8.30pm on May 3 and then hid her corpse in a fridge, with the help of friends.

The respected Diario de Noticias newspaper said officers believed that she accidentally killed Madeleine while her husband was playing tennis.

Her body then "passed through various locations" before going into the boot of the car hired by her parents 25 days after she disappeared, it reported.

As a result, detectives want to inspect fridges at the Ocean Club complex where the McCanns were staying with a group of seven British adults.

A source close to the McCanns said: "That is total rubbish. Have you seen the size of the fridges in those apartments? Of course they did not stuff her in a fridge. Kate was not in the apartment alone with Maddy.

"They had both been playing tennis, then they put her to bed together and were then down for dinner (with their friends) by 8.20pm."

The report is the latest of a series of allegations in the Portuguese media credited to anonymous detectives from the Policia Judiciaria. There are concerns that the McCanns have become victims of "black propaganda" being put out by police to explain why they were made official suspects.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "We do not know who is putting all this out in Portugal but for the family's sake it's time for it to stop. Every one of these nonsensical allegations causes real pain and hurt for both Gerry and Kate, who cannot help but be aware of them. It makes a most awful situation far, far worse, because they know it's not true.

"I am very grateful for the media support; it is immeasurable in terms of what has been done to help find Madeleine, but these reports are increasing the pain for Kate and Gerry.

"We just hope that everyone can see these ridiculous rumours for what they are. It is very hard on the couple because they are not allowed to talk about the investigation and cannot defend themselves."

Mr Mitchell said that the McCanns would attend church tomorrow. "It will be just another day without Madeleine," he said.

Ordeal

It was reported yesterday that the couple, both 39, may speak out about their ordeal in a television show with a celebrity interviewer.

The McCanns have previously turned down requests for interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Larry King but they are said to be considering a request from the veteran American broadcaster Barbara Walters for an interview to coincide with the launch of an stg£80,000 (€114,000) advertising campaign for the search for their daughter.

The couple are said to be furious that they cannot speak out because of Portuguese judicial secrecy laws. The law, however, prohibits them only from discussing evidence in the case.

The McCanns had used their campaign to find Madeleine as an opportunity to raise awareness about other missing children and to call for better alert systems.

It was announced yesterday that Portugal is to call for an EU-wide alert system for missing children. Portugal, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will ask member states at a meeting in Lisbon this week if they want to expand to all 27 countries a new French alert system involving a nationwide media campaign and messages in stations and on motorways.

Meanwhile, Gerry McCann yesterday threw his backing behind the move to create the Europe-wide alert system for missing children.

Portugal is reportedly pushing for such a system to be set up at a key meeting of European home affairs ministers next week.

Madeleine went missing from her parents' rented holiday flat on the Algarve on May 3.

Portuguese police faced criticism over the speed of their response to the disappearance including questions over how quickly it sealed borders and alerted ports and airports.

Images of Madeleine were circulated through the media by friends and family in the hours after Madeleine's disappearance.

Now Portugal is said to be backing the extension of a French alert system, which includes electronic roadside messages, across the EU's 27 countries.

In the UK, a similar county-wide scheme, including automatic media alerts, was pioneered in Surrey after the disappearance of local schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Gerry McCann said: "If this is true, we would very much welcome it as a major step in the right direction.

"Kate and I have consistently campaigned to effect such changes throughout the European Union to help protect children everywhere.''

Mr McCann travelled to Washington DC earlier this year to meet the then US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to discuss measures in place there.

There, news of a missing child in Arkansas could be notified to police in California in less than two hours.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "From his own experience during his recent trip to America, Gerry felt that the US is some distance ahead of Europe.

"Clearly a widening of effective systems to raise immediate awareness of missing children across the EU is exactly the sort of long-term change Gerry and Kate are working so hard to achieve.''

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