Four months after Gerry and Kate McCann won apologies and a £550,000 libel pay out from four newspapers for "grotesque and grossly defamatory" articles concerning the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine, seven friends of the couple have employed the same lawyers to act against at least one national newspaper.
The Carter Ruck libel firm is advising the so-called "Tapas Seven" group who were with the McCanns on the evening of Madeleine's disappearance in May 2007 in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz. Matthew Oldfield, Rachel Oldfield, Russell O'Brien, Jane Tanner, David Payne, Fiona Payne and Diane Webster are in talks with the Carter Ruck partner Adam Tudor, with action expected within weeks.
Mr Tudor, who acted for the McCanns, yesterday commented: "I can confirm I and my firm are advising the seven friends." He declined to elaborate or specify which newspaper they were considering suing.
At the centre of possible action would be suggestions that the friends kept a "pact of silence" in their dealings with police, and that they refused to take part in a reconstruction of the night Madeleine disappeared.