The Daily Express and Daily Start today published apologies to seven friends of Kate and Jerry McCann who have been dubbed the Tapas Seven.
And Express Newspapers is reported to be paying the group £375,000 in damages, which they are expected to donate to the Find Madeleine fund. The Sunday Express is also expected to publish an apology this week.
The apology printed today says: “In articles published between July and December last year we suggested that the holiday companions of Kate and Gerry McCann might have covered up the true facts concerning Madeleine McCann’s disappearance and/or misled the authorities investigating her disappearance.
“We also reported speculation that one member of the group, Dr Russell O’Brien, was suspected of involvement with Madeleine’s abduction. We now accept that these suggestions should never have been made and were completely untrue.”Seven friends who were on holiday with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter Madeleine vanished are to receive a “substantial” libel payout from a newspaper group, a source said.”
The seven are couples Jane Tanner and Russell O’Brien, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster.
With the McCanns, they made up the party staying in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in May last year when Madeleine disappeared days before her fourth birthday.
Despite a huge police investigation and massive coverage in the Portuguese and British media, the little girl has not been found.
The nickname for the group comes from the tapas restaurant where all nine adults were dining when Madeleine went missing from her family’s holiday apartment nearby.
Express Newspapers paid the McCann £550,000 in damages in March after alleging that the couple were responsible for the death of their daughter in a series of articles. And it published unprecedented front page apologies in all of its four national newspapers.
In July, four newspaper groups agreed a libel settlement worth at least £800,000 with Robert Murat, at one point an “arguido”, or formal suspect, in Madeleine’s disappearance, and two of his associates.
Police also named the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, as arguidos in September last year.
But after an exhaustive 14-month inquiry, the Portuguese authorities announced in July that the case was being shelved and that all three suspects would have their status lifted.
ASeven friends who were on holiday with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter Madeleine vanished are to receive a “substantial” libel payout from a newspaper te group, a source said.