McCann lawyers seek to shut website

Lawyers representing the parents of Madeleine McCann, the British child remains missing after disappearing in Portugal in 2007, have started a legal battle to close down a website which claims Madeleine is dead and that her parents were in some way responsible for this.

Kate and Gerry McCann have instructed London law firm Carter-Ruck to seek the closure of MadeleineFoundation.org.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry have consistently made it clear they will not dignify the actions of the so-called Madeleine Foundation with any comment whatsoever.

"However Carter-Ruck's position is now clear and it is in the hands of Kate and Gerry's defamation lawyers."

In a statement on its website, the Madeleine Foundation says libel lawyers Carter-Ruck also demand it to hand over all remaining copies of leaflets and booklets it has published, or is planning to publish, to support its claims.

The foundation said chairman, Debbie Butler, and secretary, Tony Bennett, were now taking legal advice.

The website carries letters it claims were sent to Carter-Ruck in response to its communications - however a spokesman for the law firm said it had not yet received any response.

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's rented holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May, 2007, while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Express Newspapers paid Kate and Gerry McCann £550,000 in damages in March last year after alleging that the couple were responsible for the death of their daughter in a series of articles.

In July, 2008, four newspaper groups agreed a six-figure libel settlement with Robert Murat, at one point named by Portuguese police as a formal suspect in Madeleine's disappearance.

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