Madeleine McCann’s father Gerry arrived in Lisbon today to attend the libel case regarding a book written about their daughter’s disappearance by a former Portuguese police chief.
The court heard from Mr McCann’s sister, Trish Cameron, who said that the book The Truth Of The Lie had multiplied the family’s distress “100 times”.
The McCann’s say the book written by Goncalo Amaral, who at one time led the investigation into Madeleine’s case, makes claims that they hid their daughter’s body after she died in an accident and faked an abduction – suggestions which the family says damaged their hunt for the young girl.
Speaking about the alleged exacerbation of the McCanns’ pain and suffering, Mrs Cameron said her brother and his wife Kate had been “vilified and demonised” as a result of Mr Amaral’s book and a subsequent TV documentary.
She said the claims it made were even more damaging than when the pair were named as “arguidos”, or formal suspects, in the case.
“This was a different thing,” Mrs Cameron said. “It was much more conclusive and demonising them, dehumanising them, saying they did not care for their children, that they were responsible.
“It makes it out that they weren't truthful and they have been vilified and it's very hard to turn round opinion about them that has been so widely spread.”
She told the court the Portuguese people had “turned against” the McCanns, adding: “Maybe people like a solution and an end to things, they were fed up with the McCanns, they wanted them to go away, but they weren't going away. They still had a missing child.
“This perhaps gave people a conclusion, but it's not the right conclusion, it's all lies.”
If successful in the case the family stands to be awarded around £1 million in damages. The McCanns were paid £550, 000 in damages in 2008 after Express Newspapers settled a libel case over reports of Madeleine's disappearance. The money was used to fund the Find Madeleine campaign.
Mrs Cameron, whose voice cracked as she described the effect on her family by the publication of the book, said: “They were vilified in this book so their distress was multiplied 100 times.
“This pain was felt by all of their family because we still have a missing child and we knew that what is in there is not true.”
Mrs Cameron, from Glasgow, travelled to Lisbon with brother Gerry, who has applied to give evidence in the case.
Mr McCann still does not know whether he will be able to give evidence at the trial, and no decision was taken today.
Other legal teams are thought to have until October 16 to make submissions on his application, ahead of the judge making her final decision.
As Mr McCann left court at lunchtime, he said: “Obviously it's disappointing, but we will just keep going.”
Madeleine, who was then nearly four, disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on 3 May 2007 as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant with friends.
Mr Amaral, the detective who initially led the inquiry into her disappearance, was removed from the Portugese investigation in October 2007 after criticising the British police.
He has also applied to give evidence at the trial and is awaiting a decision.
Additional reporting by PA