Page last updated at 20:43 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Murat addresses Cambridge Union

Robert Murat
Robert Murat had previously lived in Hockering in Norfolk

A man who won damages from newspapers after being named a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case has said his life has been scarred by the tabloid press.

Robert Murat, who previously lived in Hockering, Norfolk, was a suspect, or arguido, under Portuguese law before being cleared of any involvement.

In a Cambridge Union debate, Mr Murat said his "life will be scarred forever" due to "lies" printed in the tabloids.

The debate is on whether tabloid newspapers do more harm than good.

Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared while her family was on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

Mr Murat, who is in his mid-30s, proposed the motion, "This house believes tabloids do more harm than good" during the debate at the Cambridge Union Society.

'Pack of hounds'

"There was never a shred of evidence that I was in any way involved despite eight months of lurid headlines," said Mr Murat.

"But could the acres of newsprint devoted to publishing inaccurate and hurtful stories about me have been put to better use in finding Madeleine?

"I have dwelt on that a lot, agonised about it and the fact is we'll never know."

He said he felt like "a fox being pursued by a pack of hounds", and added: "Often I felt like I was somewhere between a Kafka novel and the Will Smith movie Enemy Of The State."

Mr Murat said that after Madeleine disappeared, he, like other locals, felt a natural urge to help.

He said since he was fluent in English and Portuguese he "pitched in" by helping police translate British witnesses' statements.

He became a suspect after "one particular tabloid journalist" approached police to convince them that he was "acting suspiciously".

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