5 March 2009
By Sarah Limbrick
Public relations expert Justine McGuinness, who acted for Kate and Gerry McCann's Find Madeleine Fund, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers for libel damages.
McGuinness, who spent three months working as a communications strategist for the fund, is suing over a story in The People in October 2007 which she said was defamatory.
The front page story, headed: "Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k" was also published on the paper's website.
In her writ, McGuinness said the story suggested she had deliberately ripped off the Find Madeleine Fund by overcharging the McCanns for expenses to which she was not entitled and inflating her overtime.
She said the story claimed that, because of this, she was immediately forced to quit by the fund, although she had persuaded the McCanns to conceal this as the true reason for the end of her employment.
McGuinness, who runs Pineapple Consultants, said the story seriously injured her reputation and caused her considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
She said the allegations struck at the heart of her personal and professional reputation, casting serious doubt on her honesty and integrity, and were deeply offensive to her as they accused her of "cheating" a worthwhile and high-profile cause.
The writ claimed that, as a result of the story, the allegations were repeated in other media, and on the internet.
McGuinness said although she had written a letter of complaint to the paper, The People had refused to apologise or provide any correction, which has increased the injury to her feelings.
Now McGuinness is seeking damages and aggravated damages for libel and an injunction banning repetition of the original allegations about her.
Source: Press Gazette
Discussion at the 3 arguidos:Kate and Gerry sued all and sundry for libel
Murat sued for libel
The Tapas 7 sued for libel
Maybe the Portuguese police would also like to sue The People over this article MADDIE COPS TOTALLY CLUELESS
EXCLUSIVE Brit detectives' verdict.. and flaws in inquiry
By Rachael Bletchly
The Portuguese police hunting Madeleine McCann have been branded "Keystone Cops" by British officers shocked at their appalling blunders.
Detectives from Leicestershire are said to be horrified that clues which could have led to the tot's abductors have probably been lost forever.
The British cops, drafted in to review the three-month investigation, were stunned by the "incompetence, inaccuracy and crass inefficiency" they found.
A source close to the team said the officers had been "tearing their hair out in frustration and disbelief" at basic errors which have hindered the search for four-year-old Maddie.
He told The People: "The Portuguese investigation has been a total shambles. Our guys were left shaking their heads at every turn asking: 'Why the hell did they do that...why didn't they do this?' "They are shocked, disappointed and p***** off by what they've found because basic procedures were not followed.
"Local police appear to have been running around like the Keystone Cops without any proper co-ordination."
The source added: "Crucial clues may have been lost and valuable hours were wasted.
The McCanns' apartment was scrubbed out and occupied by new tenants only five weeks after Madeleine disappeared and the inquiry was supposedly still highly active. When our guys arrived after 13 weeks they had to go back to square one - except square one had been trampled over with size 11 boots."
The Portuguese investigators came under fire within hours of Maddie's disappearance in Praia da Luz on May 3 for failing to seal off the area, start house-to-house enquiries and alert border guards.
Officers leading the hunt have even been criticised by local journalists over their long lunches and apparently laid-back attitude.
Police chief Guilhermino Encarnacao, 59, was dubbed Inspector Clueless.
He has refused to comment in public about the case since the second day after Maddie vanished. When no progress was made in the inquiry after three months, detectives from the Judicial Police invited specialists from Leicestershire to fly out to review the case. Maddie's parents, doctors Gerry and Kate, are from Rothley in the county.
The British team included a forensics expert and a Crackerstyle criminal profiler.
Within days they found specks of blood on the walls and curtains of the holiday apartment where Maddie had been left sleeping.
The potentially-crucial evidence, missed by Portuguese police, has now been analysed in a British lab.
Preliminary findings show the blood is that of a white European man - most likely one of the holidaymakers who moved in weeks after Maddie vanished.
A full report is expected next week but experts say the blood sample is only 72 per cent accurate as it was contaminated with detergent used to clean the flat.
Despite the scientists' caution Portuguese police jumped the gun last weekend by announcing they had new clues and developments that pointed to Maddie being dead.
And police spokesman Olegario Sousa bragged: "Never has there been so much evidence collected in a crime scene by specialised teams.
"Every single detail is being examined very carefully. We spent four days in the past week or two inside the apartment."
But the British police source said: "When he says 'We' I think he means Portuguese officers led by British experts.
"And if there was still so much evidence to be had you have to ask what could have been found in the first 24 hours."
The shambles piles more anguish on Kate and Gerry McCann who - 108 days on - are still praying for their daughter's return.
Not likely though is it?