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Madeleine McCann: Calls for apology in Guatemala

Original Source: TELEGRAPH: THURSDAY 07 AUGUST 2008
By Caroline Gammell in Praia da Luz
Published: 5:36PM BST 07 Aug 2008

British consular officials in Guatemala were forced to apologise to a leading local lawyer after they stopped his daughter in the street, thinking she was Madeleine McCann.  

The unidentified man was furious and accused the British Government of trying to effectively kidnap his daughter.

His anger emerged in the vast dossier of evidence compiled by the Portuguese police investigating Madeleine's disappearance. 

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The error occurred after British officials were given a tip-off in June last year and alerted authorities who stopped the girl who was accompanied by a man in Mires shopping mall in Guatemala City.

They were led to believe that she "bore a striking resemblance to Madeleine".

But it transpired that she was the daughter of a lawyer and the man with her was
 a bodyguard who had been looking after her while her mother went shopping.

The British Consul apologised for the mix-up but the child's family demanded a formal written apology from the British Embassy in Guatemala.

An email from the embassy sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on June 14 discussed the fall-out from the incident.

"The Consul has already given a verbal apology to the bodyguard and father following the incident," it said.

"The family actually acknowledged the close resemblance of the girl to Madeleine's photograph.

"But they are naturally unhappy with what happened and have called asking for a written and oral apology from the Embassy.

"They have since by telephone inferred that the British Government intended to kidnap the girl.

"They have requested a meeting tomorrow with the Consul. The girl's father (a lawyer) is coming back from El Salvador tomorrow as a result of what happened."

Embassy officials decided that there was no "need for a written apology at this stage" and added that the local press should be dealt with on a "strictly defensive basis".

The message was passed onto the Portuguese authorities as a potential sighting of Madeleine that could be ruled out.


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