The couple are seeking £1million in damages from Goncalo Amaral over allegations he made about the fate of their daughter Madeleine. The hearing could not come at a worse time, however, as Scotland Yard detectives begin work in the Algarve to try to solve the six-year-old mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance. The Sunday Express understands officers have advised the couple not to attend the civil hearing.
They believe Kate and Gerry’s presence would provoke a media circus and could seriously damage their sensitive work on Portuguese soil. The Sunday Express understands officers have advised the couple not to attend the civil hearing. However, Mr Amaral is expected to attend and give interviews on the steps of the court to support his view that Madeleine died in apartment 5a of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. He will say that under freedom of the press he has the right to air his views, especially as he was in a senior coordinating role early in the investigation.
A family friend said: “He has spent months working on his case and is very confident he will win.” Isabel Duarte, the McCanns’ lawyer in Lisbon, said: “Kate and Gerry do not have to give evidence so they do not need to be here. I am confident of winning.” She is seeking damages for Kate, Gerry and their twins Sean and Amelie, plus further damages for the harm caused to the search for Madeleine. It is expected some of the McCanns’ family will give evidence at the trial to explain the impact Mr Amaral’s allegations had on them and on the global hunt for the missing child.
A source said: “Because of the sensitivity of the situation, police don’t want the McCanns anywhere near the country because they fear it could turn into a media circus. They have faith in the Yard investigation and will do what the police feel is best. It will be bad enough having all the old allegations dragged up again and repeated. No doubt Mr Amaral will want to say his bit outside the court and it will all flare up again. It will not be helpful for the Yard.”
Kate McCann will be accompanied by her mother Susan Healy for the first hearing of the case against Goncalo Amaral who published a book making allegations about the three-year-old's disappearance in 2007.
The McCanns have strongly denied the accusations and say the former detective's claims have damaged the hunt for Madeleine and exacerbated the anguish suffered by her relatives. Their lawyer Isabel Duarte is expected to set out the case - on behalf of Mrs McCann, her husband Gerry and their twins Sean and Amelie, now eight - at Lisbon's civil court.
Mrs McCann, who is travelling to Portugal without her husband, could have been called as a witness but is not expected to give evidence. Instead, a number of relatives will appear in the witness box. They will speak about the "damage" caused by Mr Amaral's book which, they claim, poisoned public opinion in Portugal against the family and allegedly deterred people from hunting for Madeleine.
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry McCann remain very confident that they will win the case. "They have a strong case against Mr Amaral. The matter is now in the hands of their lawyer as it goes through court."
Mrs McCann is in Portugal where she attended the first hearing of the family's libel action against Goncalo Amaral - the former detective who made allegations about Madeleine's disappearance.
Goncalo Amaral's accusations are strongly denied by the McCanns who claim his book has damaged the hunt for their missing daughter and exacerbated the anguish suffered by her relatives. Speaking to the press, Mrs McCann said: "I'm here today for Madeleine and obviously I strongly hope for justice. I'm here to stop the damage that has been caused and is still being caused, both directly and indirectly, to the search for our daughter."
The Lisbon court had been due to hear evidence from members of the McCann family about the effect that the book by Goncalo Amaral had on them and the search for Madeleine, who was three when she disappeared in 2007 as the family holidayed on the Algarve. But proceedings were halted during Friday afternoon, the second day of the hearing.
"The judge had a problem. We are going to propose that the witnesses give their testimonies in written form so they do not have to return from Britain again, but it is not certain that this will be accepted by the court," a lawyer for the McCann family told AFP. Kate McCann left the court surrounded by family members and climbed into a black car to avoid the cameras outside the building.