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'Tapas 7' Receive 375k Damages

Original Source: SKY: THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2008
11:27am UK, Thursday October 16, 2008 
Friends of Kate and Gerry McCann have received ?375,000 in newspaper damages at the High Court.

Kate and Gerry McCann friends arrive at High Court


The Express Newspapers group paid out the huge sum after falsely claiming the so-called 'Tapas 7' misled the Madeleine investigation.

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 Find Madeleine fund.

Speaking outside 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," she added.

Mrs Payne urged anyone with information to get in contact through the 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."


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