One year after alleging that he had joked about being the ‘no.1 suspect’in the police hunt for Madeline McCann, The Scotsman has apologised to Robert Murat and admitted publishing defamatory allegations about him.
In April, Murat legal actions against 11 British newspapers and Sky News for stories linking him to the investigation and accusing him of being a prime suspect.
In an apology yesterday the paper said: ‘On 15 May an article about Robert Murat headed ‘Madeleine: He jokes of being ‘No.1 suspect” was published in which we reported a number of defamatory allegations about Mr Murat in connection with the abduction of Madeleine McCann.
‘The article wrongly accused him of ‘hanging around’ the scene in a manner which recalled the Soham murders.
‘Likening his behaviour in this way to that of Soham murderer, Ian Huntley, suggested that he was involved in the abduction of Madeleine McCann. It was a seriously defamatory allegation and wholly untrue.”
The apology continued: ‘We also wrongly implied that he had been unfeeling and insensitive about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance and had lied about his role in the police investigation. That was not our intention.
‘We accept that Mr Murat was assisting the police investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance and that his behaviour was entirely proper throughout, and we are happy to make that clear.
‘We apologise to Mr Murat for the hurt, distress and damage to his reputation caused by the article.”
The Johnston Press-owned paper did not pay out any damages.
Murat, who lives in the Portuguese town of Praia de Luz where McCann went missing, came to the attention of the press after she disappeared in May 2007. He appeared in several articles at the time as someone that was helping police with their inquiries.
He is suing through London solicitors Simon, Muirhead and Burton on a conditional fee agreement.