The parents of Madeleine McCann have failed in a libel claim against a retired Portuguese detective over comments the couple were involved in her disappearance.
Kate and Gerry McCann’s legal team argued their “right to respect for a private and family life” had been breached by the courts’ handling of accusations against Goncalo Amaral.
He claimed in a book, TV documentary and newspaper interview that the McCanns were involved in their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance during a family holiday to Praia da Luz in May 2007.
However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that the couple’s reputation had actually been damaged by the fact that they were made official suspects in the case for a short time – rather than Amaral’s claims.
Amaral was ordered to pay the couple £440,000 in damages in 2015, but an appeal court overturned that ruling and the Supreme Court found in favour of the former detective inspector in 2017.
The McCanns appeal to the ECHR was rejected in a written judgement published on Tuesday. The family now has three months to appeal against the decision.
Earlier this year German investigators found new evidence against the prime suspect in her disappearance, a prosecutor revealed in an interview on Portuguese television.
Convicted sex offender Christian Brueckner was declared a suspect in the case by Portuguese officials in April as a 15-year legal deadline approached, and he has been under investigation by German officials for two years.