McCann friends win 'substantial' libel payout

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The Independent Online

Seven friends who were on holiday with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter Madeleine vanished are to receive a "substantial" libel payout from a newspaper group, a source said today.

It is understood that Express Newspapers will tomorrow print apologies to the so-called 'Tapas Seven' and agree to pay them a total of £375,000 in damages in a High Court hearing.

The friends will donate the money to the official Madeleine's Fund, set up to help look for the missing child.

Apologies will be published in the Daily Express and the Daily Star tomorrow and in the Sunday Express at the weekend, the source said.

The case is listed for 10.30am in Court 13 of the High Court before Mr Justice Eady.

The seven are couples Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

With the McCanns, they made up the party staying in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in May last year when Madeleine disappeared days before her fourth birthday.

Despite a huge police investigation and massive coverage in the Portuguese and British media, the little girl has not been found.

The nickname for the group comes from the tapas restaurant where all nine adults were dining when Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment nearby.





Express Newspapers paid Mr and Mrs McCann £550,000 in damages in March after alleging that the couple were responsible for the death of their daughter in a series of articles.

And in July four newspaper groups agreed a libel settlement worth at least £800,000 with Robert Murat, at one point an "arguido", or formal suspect, in Madeleine's disappearance, and two of his associates.

Police also named the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, as arguidos in September last year.

But after an exhaustive 14-month inquiry, the Portuguese authorities announced in July that the case was being shelved and that all three suspects would have their status lifted.

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