Madeleine McCann's parents furious and 'distressed' by fourth libel trial delay

Kate and Gerry McCann are suing Goncalo Amaral following claims he made about them in a 2008 book called The Truth Of The Lie

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann today launched a furious attack on the former Portuguese police chief who led the search for their daughter for delaying a libel action against him.

Kate and Gerry McCann are suing Goncalo Amaral following claims he made about them in a 2008 book called The Truth Of The Lie.

The couple had travelled to Portugal to deliver personal statements on how the accusations in the book were affecting them.

Mr and Mrs McCann were originally told they could not make statements to the long-running trial at Lisbon's Palace of Justice, but the decision was overturned after an appeal by their lawyer.

However, a 10-day adjournment to the libel trial was granted after Mr Amaral sacked his legal team at the last moment. It is the fourth delay in the now five-year trial.

Speaking outside the court the couple told reporters that the delay of the trial was exasperating and caused them "more pain and distress". The couple also said there was still a "good chance" that Madeleine was still alive.

Madeleine, who was nearly four when she went missing, disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant with friends.

The McCanns' case is that the false allegations in Mr Amaral's 2008 book, including suggestions that they hid Madeleine's body after she died in an accident and faked an abduction, damaged the hunt for their daughter and exacerbated their anguish.

If successful the family stand to gain around £1 million in damages.

The McCanns' return to Portugal comes after they said last week that the fact police found no evidence relating to their missing daughter during recent searches in Praia da Luz had reinforced their belief that she could still be alive.

Speaking today the parents expressed their anger at the further delay in the case:  "We're exasperated that the hearing has been cancelled once again at Mr Amaral's request.

"This is the fourth time this has happened and we've travelled to Portugal.

"The legal case has been running now for over five years and we want to get justice for Madeleine.

"Today is a blatant and cynical attempt to wear us down and it's Madeleine who is suffering.

"We're not going to give up - we're going to keep going."

Clearly angry and upset, Mrs McCann said: "We need to make it clear to people: we took on this case because of the pain and distress that Mr Amaral has brought to us and our children.

"And every time he postpones the case like this it brings us more pain and distress.

"Every time we come here we have to make arrangements for our children to be looked after, we have to book flights, we have to book hotels, we have to take time off work to come here.

"And Mr Amaral handed that letter in apparently around nine o'clock this morning. That letter could have been handed in before we left the country.

"And this has happened about four times. As Gerry said, this can't be seen as anything but blatant and cynical. We just want justice. This is not fair."

Mrs McCann said Mr Amaral was trying to deny Madeleine the "human right" to be looked for and found, adding that the detective was "not the victim in this".

Mr McCann said Madeleine "is completely innocent in all of this, this is what it's about, an innocent child who is missing".

When asked what he would say to Mr Amaral, Mr McCann said curtly: "We are not speaking to Mr Amaral."

The latest delay in the case comes as Mr Amaral made more outlandish claims today about Madeleine's disappearance in an interview with Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha and its sister TV channel CMTV.

The McCanns said they would return to Portugal for the next hearing, which has been scheduled for July 8th.