Parents of Madeleine McCann lose Defamation Case at ECHR

Madeleine vanished in 2007

Jerry and Kate McCann, the parents of missing child Madeleine McCann,  have lost their defamation case against a Portuguese detective who had claimed they were involved in their daughter’s disappearance.  

The case was heard by the European Court of Human Rights after the McCannes appealed a 2017 decision by the Portuguese Supreme Court overruling a decision in their favor which had been made by an inferior court in the country. 

The Guardian reports, “In 2015, a Lisbon court ordered Amaral, a former detective inspector, to pay €500,000 (£440,000) to Madeleine’s parents. But an appeal court overturned the decision the next year and, in 2017, the supreme court also found against the McCanns.”

 Little Madeleine, then 3 years old, was abducted from a holiday resort in Praia Da Luz Portugal in May 2007, while her parents were out socializing with friends. 

Officer Goncalo Amaral had claimed in a book he wrote about his involvement in the search for the little girl called ‘Truth of the Lie’ that the McCanns were involved in Madeleine’s mysterious disappearance. 

In their case before the ECHR, the McCanns had argued Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and  made arguments related to Article 6 (right to a fair trial), saying that the information had deprived them of their right to their good name and the presumption of innocence before the law. 

The judges involved in the case decided unanimously that no breaches of the relevant articles had been made. 

The European Court of Human Rights said in a press release about the case that, “even assuming that the applicants’ reputation had been damaged, this was not on account of the argument put forward by the book’s author but rather as a result of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their being placed under investigation in the course of the criminal investigation”.

It continues that the information “ had thus been brought to the public’s attention in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published. It followed that the national authorities had not failed in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.”


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