MADELEINE McCann’s parents were under police protection last night after a sick leaflet blaming them for the disappearance was posted to 1,500 of their neighbours.
Officers stepped up patrols around the home of doctors Kate and Gerry, both 41, in case the smear campaign escalates into violence.
And police warned those behind the mass leaflet drop that they face prosecution for harassment.
Four-page pamphlets listing “10 key reasons which suggest she was not abducted’’ were posted through 1,500 letter-boxes in the McCanns’ home village of Rothley and the nearby city of Leicester.
One was delivered to each house in the posh cul-de-sac where the couple live – except their own.
Up to 10 people are suspected of the night-time leaflet drop, including one man on a motorbike.
The leaflets were the work of The Madeleine Foundation – a group that tried unsuccessfully to bring a private prosecution against the couple for neglecting their daughter the night she vanished from their Portuguese holiday flat.
The smear campaign comes just a week after the McCanns’ detectives made an appeal to find a Posh Spice lookalike they believe could have masterminded Madeleine’s abduction.
Three days after the then three-year-old vanished from Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, the mystery Australian woman approached a British stag night reveller at a mar-ina 880 miles away in Barcelona and asked him: “Are you here to deliver my daughter?’’
Police suspect the fresh appeal for information may have sparked the new hate campaign.
In a joint statement the couple said: “We do not wish to dignify the actions of the so-called Madeleine Foundation with any response.
“We do feel it is important, however, that the general public are made aware the Madeleine Foundation has no connection whatsoever with our family or those helping us to find Madeleine, or any law enforcement agencies or child welfare organisations.
“We also strongly believe that the actions of this so-called organis-ation’ do not have Madeleine’s best interests at heart.
“If anything, it is hindering all of our efforts to find Madeleine and to achieve justice.’’
A family pal added: “This is an absolute disgrace. Just how much do Kate and Gerry have to go on suffering?
“They are still battling to come to terms with someone abducting their daughter. Every day must be a living nightmare.
“Yet people who have nothing whatsoever to do with them or the case take it upon themselves to do something like this.
“It is plain and simple harassment and their lawyers will ensure the police act accordingly.
“Officers are having to step up patrols of the area in case this whole thing escalates.
“Kate and Gerry are obviously upset. It must be terrible to think that all your neighbours are reading these despicable lies.’’
The Daily Star cannot publish many of the allegations contained in the leaflet for legal reasons.
The leaflet supports the conclusions of disgraced Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral, who was behind the decision to name Kate and Gerry as suspects in Madeleine’s disappearance and was subsequently sacked after accusing British police of siding with them.
He went on to pen a best-selling book in which he alleges Madeleine died inside the holiday apartment.
The McCanns have had their suspect status lifted and have hired private detectives to try to find their daughter.
Last night their neighbours branded the leaflets “ludicrous and insensitive’’.
Patricia Ball, 71, who lives just 250 yards from Kate and Gerry, said: “The things that were being said made me cringe. It sent shivers down my spine. It was very upsetting. It just seemed to be a nasty and provocative leaflet.’’
Alice Connell, 34, who lives nearby, said: “I felt sick to the stomach when I read it. It just seems like a vendetta against Kate and Gerry.’’
Last night Madeleine Foundation leader Tony Bennett, 61, a retired solicitor from Harlow, Essex, who wrote a book about the case, admitted he was behind the leaflet drop.
“I do not fear any legal action from the McCanns,’’ he said.
“If anyone can demonstrate that any fact in the leaflet is incorrect then I will happily change it.
“We have distributed 1,500 in the Rothley and Leicester area.’’
A police spokesman said the matter is under investigation.
Source: Daily Star
Maddie with Sean and Amelie, the McCanns three babies who didn't have any protection even from their own parents, when they were left in an unlocked holiday flat to fend for themselves against predatory, swarthy paedophiles or fire.
The McCanns claim Maddie was indeed abducted by a predatory, swarthy paedophile, or the Australian millionairess 'posh spice lookalike' Melissa Karlson, whilst the former detective Gonçalo Amaral says there is evidence to suggest Maddie died in the apartment and her body was concealed and later transported in the McCanns hire car 25 days later.