Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

McCanns welcome papers' apology

Daily Express and Daily Star
The McCanns received a public apology read in open court

Madeleine McCann's parents have welcomed a libel settlement and apology from Express Newspapers for suggesting they were responsible for her death.

In a statement the McCanns said they were pleased that the newspaper group had admitted the "utter falsity" of the "grotesque" stories written about them.

The newspaper group has paid 550,000 to the Find Madeleine campaign.

The Daily Express and Daily Star have issued front-page apologies admitting the stories were inaccurate.

Under review

The papers said: "We acknowledge that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance. "

The McCanns, from of Rothley, Leicestershire, have refused to rule out libel action against other publications.

We are pleased that Express Newspapers have today admitted the utter falsity of the numerous grotesque and grossly defamatory allegations that their titles published
McCann statement

Their solicitor, Adam Tudor, from media law specialists Carter-Ruck, said: "These are matters that are being kept under review."

The couple reportedly hope the libel action against Express Newspapers will serve as a deterrent, but reserve the right to take action in the future.

Acted 'reluctantly'

The couple were not at London's High Court for the settlement of their action against Express Newspapers on Wednesday.

But in a statement, they said: "We embarked on this course of action reluctantly, indeed with a heavy heart, as we did not wish the pursuit of it to become a distraction from our sole aim - finding Madeleine."

They called on Portuguese police investigating her disappearance to end their status as suspects [in Portuguese, arguidos]:

"We hope that the Portuguese authorities lift our arguido status in the very near future so that everyone can focus on finding our beautiful little girl."

Utter falsity

Madeleine disappeared days before her fourth birthday, during a family holiday in the resort of Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, on 3 May last year.

The McCanns said: "We are pleased that Express Newspapers have today admitted the utter falsity of the numerous grotesque and grossly defamatory allegations that their titles published about us on a sustained basis over many months.

"The exceptional publication of these apologies, together with today's statement of full apology in open court before Mr Justice Eady, was the only just and proper response by Express Newspapers following our complaint."

The couple's representatives said that from the late summer of 2007 until February this year, the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday published more than 100 articles which were seriously defamatory of the couple.

Madeleine McCann pictured at Christmas 2006
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal in May 2007

In court Stephen Bacon, representing the newspapers, said: "Express Newspapers regrets publishing these extremely serious, yet baseless, allegations."

Wednesday's editions of the Daily Express and Daily Star both carry front-page apologies under the headline, "Kate and Gerry McCann: Sorry".

The Express said it accepted that a "number of articles in the newspaper have suggested that the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up".

A similarly worded statement appears in the Daily Star.

The Star said it was making a "wholehearted apology to Kate and Gerry McCann for stories suggesting the couple were responsible for, or may be responsible for, the death of their daughter Madeleine and for covering it up".

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Daily Express and the Daily Star apologise

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