McCanns issue appeal to Madeleine kidnappers
Kate and Gerry McCann have issued an anguished Christmas message to their daughter’s kidnappers begging them to treat her with “love and respect”.
As they face their fourth Christmas without Madeleine, the couple wrote on their website of their determination to find her.
They added: “We hope with all our hearts that wherever she is, she is safe and well and whoever may be with her is treating her with the love and respect she so deserves.”
Madeleine was three years old when she went missing from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Mrs McCann (42) from Rothley, Leicestershire, said the ordeal had been made worse by WikiLeaks claims last week that British police had ‘developed evidence’ against them as they were investigated by Portuguese authorities.
She said: “The WikiLeaks news has led to the repetition of many unfounded allegations and smears.”
Mr and Mrs McCann have won a series of libel payouts from newspapers over suggestions they were involved in their daughter’s disappearance. But the leaked cable suggests British police were actively involved in helping to build a case against them.
The couple believe the decision to name them as arguidos jeopardised the hunt for their daughter, because it may have stopped potential witnesses from coming forward with information.
And it forced them to endure an agonising 10-month wait until Portuguese police admitted they had found no evidence against them and shelved the case.
British police have always insisted they were responsible only for co-ordinating inquiries in Britain at the request of the Portuguese authorities.
Meanwhile the McCann's fund to help find their missing daughter saw income drop by almost 65% last year.
The amount raised for the cause fell from £629,181 in 2008-9 to £233,099 in 2009-10, accounts filed to Companies House show.
More than £421,000 was spent on the campaign to locate Madeleine, leaving the balance standing at £470,034 at the end of March.