ONE of Scotland's most wealthy businessmen can today be revealed as the mystery
donor helping fund the fight to clear the names of Madeleine McCann's parents.
Stephen Winyard, who owns the luxury Stobo
Castle spa in Peebleshire, has spoken publicly for the first time since
pledging £100,000 to help meet the escalating legal costs of Gerry and Kate
In an exclusive interview with The Scotsman, Mr Winyard
revealed he has already paid for DNA tests carried out on the Renault Scenic
hire car used by the McCanns nearly four weeks after Madeleine's disappearance.
The 58-year-old father-of-three has remained in the shadows since offering a
£1million reward for four-year-old Madeleine's return in May. But he said he
could no longer remain silent as "scurrilous allegations" continue to
be directed towards Mr and Mrs McCann.
He said he wanted to highlight the results of the tests on DNA recovered from
the car, and on hair samples from Kate McCann and Madeleine's brother and
Portugese police believe that DNA recovered from the
boot of the car suggest Madeleine's body was carried
inside the vehicle.
Meanwhile, Portuguese newspapers have alleged that hair samples from Kate and
Gerry McCann's children show the couple sedated the two-year-old twins, Sean
and Amelie, and Madeleine on the night she disappeared.
Mr Winyard stated that the findings of their own
tests, by Home Office-approved forensic scientists, refuted these claims.
"The reason I am breaking cover is to highlight the findings of that
report," he said. "The conclusion of the report was that no DNA was
found that in any way implicated Gerry and Kate in Madeleine's disappearance.
"The further test that was commissioned, basically a hair drug test, also
refuted the fairly scurrilous accusation that the twins were sedated or that
Kate took sedatives herself."
Mr Winyard, who splits his time between Stobo Castle
and his home in Monaco,
was approached by Gerry McCann for financial help in September.
The businessman agreed to offer an initial sum of £100,000 - a figure matched
by Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
Double-glazing magnate Brian Kennedy is also donating money to help the McCanns
clear their name.
Mr Winyard said the three were sharing the costs
between them. "I think the McCanns are entitled to the best legal defence
they can muster to refute these scurrilous allegations.
"I remain absolutely confident there is totally insufficient evidence to
link them to Madel-eine's disappearance and I'm
absolutely confident that in the fullness of time they will be fully
exonerated," he said.
Mr Winyard "simply could not stand by and
watch" as the couple endured the worst possible hell. "I think you
have to be a parent to fully understand, to some degree, what they're going
through, to understand their loss," he said.
Mr Winyard, who has met Gerry twice and Kate once,
said the couple "deeply resented" the allegations made against them
in the Portugese press.
"Their main concern is to get their suspect status lifted so that the
search for Madeleine can continue.
"Some of the reporting in the British press has been less than fair. The
blanket coverage of every aspect of their lives, the littlest things that they
do, creates, I think, the impression in people's minds that they are somehow
responsible for what happened to Madeleine."
"This is all to do with getting the focus back on finding Madeleine. Both
Gerry and Kate have been through an absolute nightmare over the last seven
months and they're facing some very difficult weeks with Christmas coming
Mr Winyard criticised the lack of public support
offered to the McCanns by the Prime Minister. Gordon Brown initially spoke to
the McCanns several times on the phone. But since they were declared suspects
by the Portugese authorities, lines of communication
had come to a halt.
"This government was elected to look after its citizens," said Mr Winyard, "and it's fair to say it's a fundamental
principle of our legal system that everyone is presumed innocent until proven
"With that in mind, I would really strongly urge that Gordon Brown, who
has previously been really supportive, accede to our request for a meeting at
He acknowledged that the McCanns' decision to leave their children in their
apartment at Praia da Luz while they dined had
"It is something the McCanns will have to live with," he said.
A Downing Street
spokesman said: "We do not comment on ongoing cases.