Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 11:10 UK

McCanns tell of 'desperate' night

Boxes used for letters by Kate and Gerry McCann
Kate and Gerry McCann use labelled boxes to sort out letters

Kate and Gerry McCann have spoken movingly of the night their daughter Madeleine vanished, a year after the three-year-old disappeared.

In an ITV1 documentary, the couple recall their all-night vigil and desperate dawn search for their daughter after she went missing.

They also reveal the extent of hate mail they receive, showing one message calling the pair "scum".

Kate McCann tells how she refused to be "railroaded" by Portuguese police.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on 3 May last year, while her parents ate in a nearby tapas restaurant.

I just remember saying: 'Not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine'
Kate McCann

In the programme, Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, the McCanns tells how they considered taking their three children with them to another restaurant called the Millennium further away, but rejected the idea only because they did not have a buggy, they said.

Describing the moment she first realised Madeleine was not in her bed at their apartment, Mrs McCann said: "I rushed round the apartment, really quickly, just opened up cupboards and things and then just went flying out down to the tapas restaurant, shouting 'someone's taken Madeleine'.

"And that's when the nightmare started."

She went on: "I just remember saying: 'Not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine' and I can just remember saying that over and over and over again.

"Gerry was the same... I'm not used to seeing Gerry obviously that upset."

She said one of her most vivid memories was concern that Madeleine would be cold.

"I knew what pyjamas she had on and I just thought she's going to be freezing," she said.

Marked boxes

A segment filmed in the family home shows Mr McCann sorting through mail, dropping one Christmas card inside a box marked "Nasty".

Other boxes are marked "Wellwishers", "Psychics", "Visions and dreams", and even "Nutty".

However, the couple tell the programme that "99%" of the correspondence they receive from the public is positive.

If you had any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter's disappearance and give all the money back
Message sent to McCanns

The card accuses the McCanns of stealing money from the Find Madeleine campaign to help pay their mortgage

The person writes: "Gerry and Kate, how can you use money given by poor people in good faith to pay your mortgage on your mansion?"

It continues: "Shame on you. I curse you and your family to suffer forever.

"Cursed Christmas. If you had any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter's disappearance and give all the money back. You are scum."

Last pictures

One regular writer has a conspiracy theory about Madeleine passing through Belgium and Germany with the knowledge of the British government.

"Really, I don't think there's any credibility to it whatsoever," Mr McCann says.

Mrs McCann says she refused to be "railroaded" by Portuguese police when it was suggested she might be involved in her daughter's disappearance.

"I'd have fought to the death to be honest at that point," she says.

The McCanns talk warmly of some of the last pictures to be taken of Madeleine while the family were on holiday in the Algarve.

"She was a little person becoming independent and a piece of just endless joy," Mr McCann says.


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