Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Statements in full: McCann case

Here is the full text of the statement from Kate and Gerry McCann after the couple accepted 550,000 damages from Express Newspapers over false claims about their daughter's disappearance.

It is followed by the full text of the Daily Express's front-page apology.

KATE AND GERRY McCANN

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.

We also wish to place on record our thanks to Adam Tudor, from Carter Ruck. Today's result simply could not have been achieved without him.

Kate and Gerry McCann
The McCanns said they pursued the action with "a heavy heart"

Express Newspapers rightly acknowledge that we are innocent of all allegations that we may have been involved in Madeleine's abduction and we would like to reiterate that there is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine is dead or has been seriously harmed.

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.

Indeed, as long ago as last autumn, our lawyers approached Express Newspapers and urged them to show greater restraint in their reporting - requests which went utterly unheeded.

The distress all this has caused members of our wider family, at a time of great emotional turmoil for them, was also a major factor in our action.

Their pain over the loss of Madeleine has been compounded by having to witness the irresponsible and libellous reporting that we have successfully challenged today.

As part of our settlement, Express Newspapers have also agreed to pay damages by way of a donation of 550,000 to the fund that was established to help find Madeleine.

We feel it is entirely appropriate that the search for Madeleine will now benefit directly out of the wrongs committed against us as her parents.

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, Madeleine.

DAILY EXPRESS

The Daily Express today takes the unprecedented step of making a front-page apology to Kate and Gerry McCann.

We do so because we accept 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.

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.

We trust that the suspicion that has clouded their lives for many months will soon be lifted.

As an expression of its regret, the Daily Express has now paid a very substantial sum into the Madeleine Fund and we promise to do all in our power to help efforts to find her.

Kate and Gerry, we are truly sorry to have added to your distress.

We assure you that we hope Madeleine will one day be found alive and well and will be restored to her loving family.

A similarly-worded statement was published in the Daily Star, another of the Express group's titles, with further apologies expected in the Sunday Express and Daily Star Sunday.





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