McCanns dismiss detectives' claims over Madeleine

Gerry McCann angrily dismissed Portuguese detectives' claims that his daughter Madeleine is dead as he arrived at court today.

Senior officers involved in the case told a hearing in Lisbon yesterday of their belief that the little girl died in her family's holiday flat and that her parents faked her abduction.

Returning for a second day of evidence, Mr McCann and his wife Kate insisted that none of the claims were new.

Mr McCann was asked by a Portuguese reporter whether it was worth the emotional cost for the couple to attend the court case.

He replied: "Do you have children? Anyone who has children would go through the same process."

Lisbon's main civil court is hearing an attempt by former police chief Goncalo Amaral to overturn a ban on his book questioning the McCanns' account of what happened to Madeleine.

Speaking as he arrived at the court building hand-in-hand with his wife, Mr McCann seized on public prosecutor Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses's testimony yesterday that it was "50-50" whether the child is dead.

Mr McCann said: "The most important thing yesterday was what the prosecutor said, there is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine is dead and there is absolutely no evidence that we were involved in her disappearance.

"That is the conclusion of the process and that is what we are here debating - the conclusions of the process versus the conclusions of the book."

Chief Inspector Tavares de Almeida told the court yesterday he believed that Madeleine died in her family's apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on the day she went missing.

He said the main evidence for this was the findings of British police sniffer dogs sent to Portugal to examine the flat.

Mr McCann said the evidence of the police witnesses called by Mr Amaral's lawyers did not surprise him.

"Why would we be shocked? We are not denying the existence of the dogs or anything else," he said.

"It's evidence we're interested in. There is no evidence that Madeleine is dead, that's what you heard yesterday."

His wife added: "There's nothing new."

Mr Amaral's lawyers argue that the material in his book - Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie - is contained in the official Portuguese police files for the case, many of which were made public in August 2008.

Arriving for today's hearing, Mr Amaral said he was "very happy" that his police colleagues had repeated in court what was in the files and in his book.

The McCanns, both 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, say their main motive for challenging the former policeman is the fear that people will stop looking for their daughter if they think she is dead.

Explaining why the couple launched legal action against Mr Amaral, Mr McCann said today: "This is a legal process that we're going through to protect our daughter and our family.

"We're looking for new information to help the search.

"The question of course is who is looking for Madeleine and who has been looking for Madeleine over the last two years, and that is us and our investigators."

Mr McCann will return to Britain this afternoon because of work commitments, a spokeswoman for the couple said.

Fiona Payne, one of the friends who was on holiday with the McCanns when Madeleine disappeared on May 3 2007, is flying out to support Mrs McCann.