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McCanns mark 1,000th day of Maddie search

Kate and Gerry McCann will mark the 1,000th day since their daughter Madeleine went missing with a fundraising event attended by celebrity backers.

Supporters of the couple will also launch 1,000 glowing paper lanterns into the night sky in Britain, Portugal and the US to coincide with tomorrow's sad landmark.

About 180 guests are expected to attend the McCanns' £150 (d170) a head dinner, raffle and auction at Kensington Roof Gardens in west London.

It is understood that those invited include Richard Branson, who owns the exclusive venue, Harry Potter author JK Rowling and the couple's millionaire backer Brian Kennedy.

Half the money raised will go to the McCanns' fund to find Madeleine, and the other half will be split between the charities Missing People and Missing Children Europe.

Nearly £2m was raised for Madeleine's Fund in the first 10 months after the little girl went missing from Praia da Luz in Portugal in May 2007.

But the initial surge of donations dried up and the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, spent hundreds of thousands of pounds hiring a series of private detectives to continue the search for their daughter. McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell stressed that there was no "crisis" in the fund, which currently stands at about £500,000.

He said: "The directors of the fund felt it was prudent to maintain the fund. But even if the fund were to run dry, it doesn't mean the search stops."

Mr Mitchell said tomorrow evening's fundraiser would be attended primarily by the couple's friends and long-term supporters.

The paper lanterns will be launched from about 20 different locations, including Praia da Luz, Rothley and Mrs McCann's hometown of Liverpool.

Police

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment on May 3, 2007 while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Mr and Mrs McCann are currently taking legal action against Goncalo Amaral, the former head of the Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

They have been granted a temporary injunction on his book, Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie, which claims their daughter died in her family's holiday flat on the day she went missing.

Earlier this month the couple flew to Lisbon to hear Mr Amaral attempt to overturn the ban in the Portuguese capital's main civil court. The judge is expected to rule on the case next month.

The McCanns are also seeking x1.2m in compensation for defamation in separate proceedings in Portugal against the former detective.

hnews@herald.ie


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