Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Murat wins libel pay-out from Sky

Robert Murat
Robert Murat has consistently maintained his innocence

Robert Murat has accepted substantial libel damages from British Sky Broadcasting over some of its reporting of Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

His case related to allegations he had acted in a manner similar to Soham killer Ian Huntley in the days after she vanished in Portugal in May 2007.

Mr Murat has always denied involvement and is no longer a suspect in the case.

Sky told London's High Court it apologised for publishing the false allegations and the distress caused.

The amount involved in the damages pay-out has not been disclosed.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, has not been seen since disappearing during a family holiday to Praia da Luz, in the Algarve.

She was days away from her fourth birthday.

Mr Murat's solicitor, Louis Charalambous, told Mr Justice Eady on Friday that his client's action resulted from an article and video on the Sky News website making allegations about his behaviour around the time Madeleine disappeared.

He has been entirely successful and vindicated
Robert Murat's solicitor

These claimed that in the early days afterwards, the behaviour of Mr Murat, who lives in Praia da Luz with his mother, had been reminiscent of child-killer Huntley.

The website also suggested Mr Murat had deliberately tried to mislead journalists by pretending to be acting in an official capacity for the police.

Mr Charalambous told the judge the allegations made by Sky were entirely untrue and it was accepted that Mr Murat had had no involvement whatever in the abduction of Madeleine.

He said: "[Sky] acknowledges that Mr Murat's actions after the abduction were entirely proper and were motivated by a desire to help find Madeleine McCann."

He said that Sky's apology would appear on its website for 12 months.

Outside court, Mr Charalambous said the settlement represented the final stage of Mr Murat's claims against those sections of the British media "which defamed him so terribly".

"He has been entirely successful and vindicated," he said.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine's parents won a libel pay-out earlier this year

"It was particularly important to him to nail this particular lie - that he acted in some way reminiscent to the Soham murderer Ian Huntley when, in fact, he was working flat out to help try to find Madeleine."

In July, Mr Murat received a record settlement of £600,000 and an apology over "seriously defamatory" allegations in nearly 100 newspaper articles concerning the case.

The out-of-court libel settlement was reached with the Sun, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Mail, London Evening Standard, Metro, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, News of the World and the Scotsman.

That same month his status as an official suspect in the case was lifted by Portuguese police as they shelved their investigation.

In March, Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann, who were also named as suspects but have also had their status lifted, won £550,000 and an apology from Express Newspapers for suggesting they had been involved in their daughter's disappearance.

And last month, seven friends who were dining with the McCanns when Madeleine disappeared received a £375,000 libel pay-out, also from Express Newspapers.

It related to untrue allegations in three newspapers about the conduct of the so-called "tapas seven".



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