Madeleine McCann's parents 'distressed' by libel trial delay

Gerry McCann: "Today is a blatant and cynical attempt to wear us down"

Kate and Gerry McCann have criticised the former Portuguese police chief who led the search for their daughter for delaying a libel action against him.

The McCanns are suing Goncalo Amaral following claims he made about them in a book and had been due to tell a court how his comments damaged the search.

The couple said the 10-day adjournment of his trial was exasperating and caused them "more pain and distress".

They said there was still a "good chance" that Madeleine was alive.

She went missing in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz in 2007, aged three.

The McCanns say claims made by the former police officer in his book - called The Truth Of The Lie - discouraged people from coming forward with information after Madeleine disappeared.

In the book - published in 2008 - Mr Amaral wrote that the couple had hidden her body and faked an abduction after she died in an accident - claims the McCanns say also exacerbated their anguish.

The McCanns had been expected to deliver statements at Lisbon's Palace of Justice.

However, an adjournment to the libel trial was granted at the court after Mr Amaral sacked his legal team at the last minute. It is the fourth delay in the case.

'Not giving up'

Speaking afterwards, Mr McCann said he would return to Portugal for the next hearing, which has been set for 8 July.

He said the latest delay was a "blatant and cynical attempt to wear us down".

"We're exasperated that the hearing has been cancelled once again at Mr Amaral's request," he said, adding: "We're not going to give up. We're going to keep going."

Kate and Gerry McCann Kate and Gerry McCann told journalists they believed their daughter was still alive
Goncalo Amaral The McCanns are suing Mr Amaral following claims he made in his 2008 book, called The Truth Of The Lie

If the McCanns' case is successful they could be awarded substantial damages.

But Mrs McCann said she wanted to "make it clear" the family had taken on the case because of the "pain and distress that Mr Amaral has bought to us and our children".

"We just want justice; this is not fair," she said.

Mr McCann also said the family had not given up hope of finding Madeleine.

He said: "As far as we're concerned there's a good chance she's still alive and we have to keep searching for her."

British and Portuguese police recently spent 10 days searching parts of the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz where Madeleine was last seen alive.

'Purgatory'

Mr and Mrs McCann were originally told they could not make statements at the long-running libel trial but the decision was overturned after an appeal by their lawyer.

In October last year, Mr McCann's sister, Trish Cameron, told the trial that the couple's pain over their daughter's disappearance had been "multiplied 100 times" by the book.

She added they had been left in "purgatory" by the disappearance of Madeleine and claims that they were somehow involved.

Mr Amaral, who initially headed the inquiry into the disappearance, was taken off the case in October 2007.

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