Since Madeleine McCann disappeared into thin air nearly 10 years ago, her parents Kate and Gerry McCann have clearly felt confident enough to sue anyone who criticised them in print. They confidently repeated the mantra that there was no proof that Madeleine had come to harm, although more recently they have added the word physical: there is no proof that Madeleine has come to any physical harm. Perhaps they reconsidered that mantra because if Madeleine had been abducted, were we to accept that they truly believed that abduction did not harm a child?
Kate and Gerry have courted the media for 10 years, being able to grab the media's attention with a comment whenever a child who had gone missing many years before turned up safe and well. This gives us renewed hope bla bla bla....
We know that the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance was archived in 2008, at which point some, but not all, of the Portuguese police files of the investigation were made public. Soon after this, Gonçalo Amaral's book about the investigation was published. It then took Kate and Gerry nearly a year after the publication of that book to decide that they had been seriously harmed by it and to take legal action in the Portuguese courts.
Eight years on and the Portuguese Supreme Court has decided in Gonçalo Amaral's favour. The text of the Supreme Court's decision has been translated and the British media is on a wave. Kate and Gerry were not cleared of involvement in their daughter's disappearance. The lifting of their arguido status with the archiving of the case did not mean they had been declared innocent.
Thanks to Joana Morais, we have the translation of what are probably the most important parts of the Supreme Court's statement.
This is Joana's introduction to her translation: "Court acquits Gonçalo Amaral and points out that the couple was constituted as arguidos (suspects) with a "well-founded suspicion" of having committed a crime."
Several British newspapers, including the Sun, the Mirror, the Mail and the Metro, have picked up on certain important aspects of the decision by the Supreme Court.
The Judge-Counsellors continue: "It is true that the criminal investigation was eventually archived, in virtue of none of the evidence that led to the constitution of the claimants as arguidos was confirmed. Nonetheless, even in the archiving dispatch serious reservations are made about the verisimilitude (reality of) of the allegation that Madeleine had been abducted."
The theory of abduction is called into question.
As to the presumption of innocence invoked by the parents, they (Judges) consider that one should not say "that the claimants were acquitted through the order of archiving the criminal proceedings (investigation). The archiving was determined because it was not possible to obtain sufficient evidence of the practice of crimes. It does not seem reasonable to consider that said archiving dispatch, based on insufficient evidence, should be equated as substantiation (proof) of exoneration".
Kate and Gerry were not cleared of involvement in their daughter's disappearance.
So, what now? None of those newspapers can be sued for what they have printed this week because they are quoting the published text of the Portuguese Supreme Court's decision. Up to this point, Kate and Gerry have been able to repeat their mantra about having been cleared. They haven't been. They have used money from the fund that was supposedly set up to search for their daughter to drag Gonçalo Amaral through the courts and they have been given an easy ride by the British press, even though they admitted to having left three small children alone in an unlocked apartment in a foreign country. Maybe the Teflon has worn off!
I imagine that in their arrogance they thought they were free and clear and they were going to leave the Portuguese court with loadsa money. Nope! If they are now contemplating taking their case to the European Court, perhaps they should bear in mind the recent decision by that court that a Portuguese journalist had the right to express his opinion. Taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights could see this case taking several more years and end up costing the McCanns even more in legal fees than they are already liable for. I guess their other mantra, "It's up to our lawyers," will come into play here once again, but if they have been guided by those lawyers for eight years, maybe it's time to engage new legal advisors.