Newspapers group paid out the huge sum after falsely
claiming the so-called 'Tapas 7' misled the
It also apologised
to the friends, who were eating with the couple in a
nearby restaurant on the night the girl disappeared.
The seven -
couples Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien, Rachael and
Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs
Payne's mother, Dianne Webster - said they will
donate the money to the
court, Mrs Payne said the pay-out "changed little"
because Madeleine was still missing.
She said the
libellous stories printed in the Express and Star
newspapers were not only personally damaging, but
"detrimental to the search for Madeleine".
It was this aspect
that was "particularly heart-breaking to ourselves,"
urged anyone with information to get in contact
Find Madeleine website,
stressing: "We believe that Madeleine is still alive
and can be found."
The friends were
on holiday with the McCanns in Praia da Luz,
Portugal, last May, when Madeleine vanished, just
days before her fourth birthday.
The nickname for the group came from the holiday
complex restaurant where all nine adults were dining
when the little girl vanished from her family's
apartment some 80 yards away.
Sky's Martin Brunt
said: "This is the third time this year newspapers
have agreed a settlement.
"The first was
against Express Newspapers - they were forced to pay
out just over ?500,000 to Kate and Gerry McCann for
more than 100 defamatory articles.
"In July, a number
of newspaper groups were involved in an even bigger
payout - around ?600,000 - to Robert Murat, the
first suspect in the case, who was subsequently
cleared of suspicion by the Portuguese authorities."