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Madeleine search cash set to run out in three months

Monday, December 21, 2009, 09:30

Cash raised to search for missing Madeleine McCann could run out within three months, according to the family's spokesman.

The Find Madeleine fund, set up by the youngster's parents, Kate and Gerry, is down to 500,000 and could be gone by March or April, according to the family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell told the Leicester Mercury that the McCanns, both 41 and from Rothley, were "not fretting" about their dwindling reserves, but were considering how they could top up the sum to maintain their efforts to locate their daughter in the new year.

Donations flooded in after Madeleine vanished from the family's apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia de Luz in May 2007.

More than 2m was sent in by well-wishers in the 10 months after she went missing, but donations have tailed off.

At the same time, spending has continued on teams of private investigators hired to locate her, as well as publicity to keep the case in the public eye.

Mr Mitchell said: "Essentially the fund is healthy there is still about 500,000, which is what we expected.

"Having said that, it is diminishing and at the current rate of spending it will be gone somewhere around March or April. However, nobody is fretting about that."

Mr Mitchell said the fund's directors would hold talks with wealthy supporters of the McCanns early next year, including Scottish double-glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy.

He said: "It will be entirely down to those supporters, including Mr Kennedy, to decide if they wish to continue.

"Kate and Gerry may consider some active fund-raising, which is something they have not had to do yet."

Mr Mitchell said the cash would have run out already had it not been for sizeable libel payments won from several British newspapers for false stories printed about the couple.

Further cash thought to be about 1m could come from a continuing libel action against Portuguese policeman Goncalo Amaral, who was involved in the early investigation of the disappearance.

He has published a book and DVD, called The Truth Of The Lie, which contain claims that Madeleine is dead.

Mr Mitchell said: "It is true that there may be some money at the end of that (the Amaral libel case). If there is, it will go directly into the fund.

"Kate and Gerry have always said, however, that they have never gone into a legal action for monetary reasons.

"They have done it to stop people like Mr Amaral saying hurtful things that could have a harmful effect on their efforts to find Madeleine. Even if the money were to run out tomorrow, the search would not end. Kate and Gerry will not give up.

"The money does, of course, help and they are thankful for the support they have had."

Last week, the McCanns issued a fresh plea for information as they prepared for a third Christmas without Madeleine.

The family said: "There will be a spare place at the Christmas table again this year. If you know anything, do the right thing and help us fill it."


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