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targeted by media
The stress of coping with the disappearance of a child would be hard
enough for any parent - but Kate and Gerry McCann have also had to reckon with
the slurs of Portugal's media.
Despite the couple always insisting they were not involved in four-year-old
Madeleine's disappearance, local newspapers and TV stations have waged a
relentless, hurtful - and often bizarre - smear campaign against them.
Here, the Daily Mirror looks back at some of the accusations.
Retired detective Jose Barra da Costa told Portuguese TV Kate and Gerry
indulged in wife-swapping sessions with the friends they were holidaying with
in Praia da Luz.
The allegations were followed up in Portuguese newspapers - even though Mr
Costa had no evidence to back up his claims.
BUGGED CALLS & EMAILS?
National newspaper Diario de Noticias claimed police bugged the McCanns and
intercepted their emails and phone calls.
The article even said this had let police gather "decisive proof"
Madeleine was not kidnapped - but officers denied bugging them.
Recently, Portuguese newspapers have made frequent claims that Madeleine died
due to negligence or was murdered.
Diario de Noticias even quoted an unnamed police source as saying: "Police
have known for a month that Madeleine McCann was killed that night at the
apartment." However, the article offered no explanation for the claim.
BLOOD IN APARTMENT?
Newspaper Jornal de Noticias claimed blood found in the apartment was
It said: "This evidence locates Madeleine's death inside the apartment,
but the investigators are still not certain it was murder, despite the fact
forensic experts have revealed somebody did try to erase the blood
The theory most favoured by detectives to explain Maddie's death - now taken as
almost certain - is that it involved an accident.
THE REAL FATHER?
Some reports sickeningly claimed Gerry was not Madeleine's real father - and
that he had deliberately altered details on her birth certificate to make it
appear he was.
However, the McCanns conceived Madeleine by IVF and were said to be
"furious" at the unsubstantiated slur.
A number of newspapers have accused the McCanns - both doctors - of treating
their children with sedatives to make them sleep.
Newspaper Tal&Qual directly accused the McCanns of killing Madeleine with
an accidental overdose while sedating her, but only attributed its story to an
"anonymous source" close to the investigation.
It even went on to speculate about the sort of prison sentences someone might
get for the crimes of homicide by negligence and hiding a body. Gerry said:
"It's incredibly hurtful and untrue. There is just absolutely no evidence
pointing in that direction." The McCanns are now suing the paper.
A DRUNKEN PARTY?
Some papers reported as fact a series of unsubstantiated rumours that the
McCanns had left their children on their own so they could go and get blind
drunk with their pals.
Papers quoted unnamed "locals" as saying the McCanns regularly left
the children crying alone while they went out drinking.
One report said they went to neighbouring town Lagos - a 15-minute drive away - without the
children one night.
But Kate and Gerry insist they ate at the Ocean Club tapas restaurant every night.
Local tabloid 24 Horas said some of the McCanns' friends had been put under
secret surveillance in England.
It did not quote any source and police in Portugal
and the UK
dismissed the story as total nonsense.
FRIEND A SUSPECT?
The McCanns' friend Dr Russell O'Brien was said to have
"mysteriously" disappeared for over an hour on the fateful night.
The Portuguese press hinted that he was somehow involved in the case, but it
emerged that Dr O'Brien left the tapas restaurant because his own child was
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