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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 02:05 GMT 03:05 UK
McCanns get millionaire's support
Gerry and Kate McCann
The McCann's attended church in Rothley on Sunday
A millionaire businessman says he is giving Madeleine McCann's parents financial support to help them fight the "incredible accusations" they face.

Cheshire-based Brian Kennedy, who owns Sale Sharks rugby club, said he "felt compelled" to help the couple.

He said he was providing Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, Leics, with financial and logistical support, including his in-house lawyer.

The McCanns are formal suspects in the inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance.

Madeleine was last seen in Praia da Luz, in Algarve, Portugal on 3 May - days before her fourth birthday.

Her parents insist she was abducted while they ate at a nearby tapas bar with friends.

'Relieving pressure'

In a statement, Mr Kennedy, who owns the Latium Group, said: "In light of the quite literally incredible accusations against Gerry and Kate McCann, which are clearly exacerbating their emotional torture, I felt compelled to offer... financial support and the full logistical support of the Latium team."

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine has not been seen since 3 May

He said the offer of help from his company's in-house lawyer, Ed Smethurst, would "relieve the McCanns of the daily pressure of co-ordinating the legal teams".

Mr Kennedy, who was born in Edinburgh, is estimated to be worth around 250m.

He made his money in double-glazing and home improvement ventures with companies including Weatherseal Holdings, Everest windows and Space Kitchens & Bedrooms.

His Latium Group business empire, which has an annual turnover of around 400m, includes firms dealing in plastics, conservatory-roofing, glass processing, and home improvement retailing.

He previously owned Stockport County Football Club before buying Sale Sharks in 1999.

Unpaid leave

Mr Kennedy is not the first tycoon to offer his support to the McCanns.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson confirmed earlier this month that he was giving 100,000 to a fund to assist with their legal bills.

Mr McCann, a consultant cardiologist, is on unpaid leave and his wife has confirmed she does not yet plan to return to work as a locum doctor.

The McCanns have said they will not use any of the 1m "Find Madeleine" fund to finance their legal costs.



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