McCanns want to "sweep" their critics off the internet

Maddie’s parents are getting ready to act judicially against internet sites that question their behaviour through comments and texts that they consider to be defaming

by André Carapeto

After the injunction that hit former Polícia Judiciária coordinator Gonçalo Amaral, preventing the book from being sold in Portugal and in England, Gerry and Kate McCann are now committed to making all the uncomfortable internet pages that concern the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine McCann, disappear.

Through their lawyers, Adam Tudor and Stephen Loughrey, from the offices of Carter Ruck, one of the most influential (and expensive) in England, Maddie’s parents want to discipline those who doubt their behaviour or suggest that they were somehow involved in their daughter’s destiny.

The famous law office that some months ago obtained hundreds of thousands of euro in compensation payments from some British media, for the McCanns and their friends who dined at the ‘Tapas Bar’ on the night that Maddie disappeared, has already taken a few measures in order to attack with the couple’s new legal offensive.

As far as everything indicates, those responsible for internet pages and blogs that are openly unfavourable towards the McCanns have already received intimations from Carter Ruck, ordering them to cease their activity, under threat of lawsuits for defamation and calumny.

Test card…

One of the main (if not even “the” main) targets for Maddie’s parents is the website that is owned by the Madeleine Foundation, headed by Anthony Bennett and Debbie Butler, who received, early this month, the letters from Tudor and Loughney, where they were asked to stop the foundation’s online page’s activity, as well as other demands made by Gerry and Kate.

But there is more: the heads of the foundation that was created with the purpose of combating child neglect, were demanded to hand over all existing copies of the book “What really happened to Madeleine McCann – 60 reasons that show that she was not abducted”, which was published in late 2008.

Apart from this ‘order’, the former English member of parliament who leads the foundation also received notices to shut down the activity of the website that was created in November last year, as well as the order to deliver to Justice the remaining leaflets that contain a summary of the book, which volunteers at Bennett’s service delivered into various English locations, including Rothley, the neighbourhood where the McCanns reside.

The former English member of parliament who heads the foundation also received intimations to delete all computer records, both of the book and of said leaflets, and to delete all allegedly offensive comments that exist on the webpage, and on interconnected forums or blogs, many of which are signed by Bennett himself.

But there is more…

Nevertheless, it is not only the Madeleine Foundation that is targeted by the McCanns’ offensive. The crosshairs also focus on blogs, including the “Three arguidos”, which is a forum that has been used for strong criticism of the behaviour of the English couple of doctors, since the night of the 3rd of May 2007.

Since they decided to stop giving interviews to the media, and discredited the action of the Portuguese police forces, the McCanns seem to have turned the search for their daughter into a struggle of their own, threatening to confront anyone who tries to contradict their position.

Over the last two years, since their daughter disappeared from apartment 5A at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Lagos, Gerry and Kate have received unconditional support of some and severe criticism from others. After last year they secured a compensation payment of 700 thousand euro, which was obtained after they accused several newspapers in their country of defamation, and after six of the seven friends that accompanied them on their Portuguese holidays, under representation of the same law firm, also received compensation payments that neared 450 thousand euro, Gerry and Kate now threaten to go down the same route, with the internet as their target.

source: O Crime, paper edition, 24.09.2009

Joana Morais

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