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Kate McCann wept in court on Thursday as friends described her “utter despair” in the days after her daughter Madeleine disappeared.
Mrs McCann, 45, brushed away tears as her family’s torment was played out on the first day of a libel trial against the Portuguese policeman who led the botched hunt for Madeleine.
Accusations by former detective Goncalo Amaral that McCann and her husband Gerry faked Madeleine’s abduction and then tried to make money from it engulfed the couple in a “massive tidal wave of lies”, their friends told the court.
Mrs McCann told friends she was “devastated” by his book, in which he claimed Madeleine, then three, died in an accident in her family’s Algarve holiday apartment and the couple staged her disappearance to cover up their negligence - accusations the McCanns vehemently deny.
The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, launched £1 million libel proceedings against Amaral, who was sacked as the head of the investigation after he launched an outspoken attack on British police.
Their friend Susan Hubbard, the wife of an Anglican minister who counselled the McCanns after Madeleine’s disappearance from a holiday resort in Praia da Luz, said: “The thought that most people in Portugal thought Madeleine was dead was devastating for both Kate and Gerry - and the thought that was added, that they had something to do with it.”
Mrs McCann, a GP, cried as the court heard she was unable to eat and constantly wept in the days after Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3, 2007. But Hubbard, 46, said Mrs McCann’s despair turned to “anger and surprise” after the couple were named as arguidos - or suspects - by the Portuguese police.
Amaral’s book, The Truth Of The Lie, was published three days after the Portuguese authorities formally closed the investigation in 2008 and cleared the couple as suspects. The McCanns lawyer, Isabel Duarte, said it also contained claims that the family’s “Find Madeleine” fund could be fraudulent.
The fund raised £2 million in public donations and was used to pay for the search for Madeleine to continue after the Portuguese case was closed. A private detective who worked for the fund said he received abuse instead of information after Amaral’s book soured public opinion against the McCanns.
Another friend, documentary-maker Emma Loach, the daughter of film director Ken Loach, said the book contained a “massive tidal wave of lies”.
She added: “If people believe Madeleine is dead they won’t look for her, and if people believe Kate and Gerry were involved they won’t help them.
“Imagine the public believing that you covered up your child’s death and then sought to make money out of it. They feel shame, humiliation and anguish.”
Amaral’s book sold around 120 000 copies before it was withdrawn when the McCanns won an injunction against him.
Mrs McCann attended the hearing at Lisbon’s civil court alone as her husband, a heart surgeon, remained in Britain to work and look after Madeleine’s brother and sister, eight-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.
Speaking after the hearing, Mrs McCann said: “I am here today for Madeleine and, I strongly hope, for justice.
“I’m here to stop the damage that has been caused and is still being caused in the search for our daughter, and to stop the suffering that has been caused to our family by the theories of Goncalo Amaral.”
The case continues. - Daily Mail