Leandro Silva claims

David Pilditch in Praia da Luz
9 August 2007
The Daily Express
Police intercept parents' phone calls and spy on their emails

The parents of Madeleine McCann have been bugged by police investigating the disappearance of their four-year-old daughter, it was sensationally claimed last night. Newspaper reports in Portugal say Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends have had their phones tapped and emails monitored. It is alleged that conversations between the couple and members of their holiday party have provided police with valuable new lines of investigation.

The allegation comes as a close friend of the McCanns broke her silence yesterday to launch a bitter attack on Portuguese police over an apparent attempt to implicate them in the crime. Rachael Oldfield, who was on holiday with the couple, blamed detectives for the growing smear campaign against them.

She said:
"I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue."

Yesterday Kate and Gerry, both 39, held informal talks with senior officers as the "deeply hurtful" smear campaign grew. The hour-long meeting, the second that Gerry has attended this week, took place at the Policia Judiciara headquarters in Portimao. The couple's previous briefings have been on neutral ground at the British Consulate.

The meeting followed a report in the newspaper Dairio de Noticias that police had intercepted emails and phone conversations between the McCanns and their friends.

The report said the group's conversations were being monitored by Portuguese and British police as part of a new phase in the investigation.

The paper said: "The police want to question the McCanns and their friends so that they can clarify the contradictions in their statements. They will put the telephone calls and emails which were intercepted to them." Earlier this week the same paper claimed that police had known for the past month that Madeleine had died in the apartment and that the McCanns would be re-interviewed.

Last night Gerry McCann hit back at the accusations. He said:

"We want to make it clear that, as far as we know, there is still absolutely no evidence that Madeleine has been seriously harmed, and Kate and I have to believe she is still alive. "The Portuguese police have assured us on numerous occasions that they are looking for Madeleine and not a corpse. "Of course all possibilities are being considered and the police have to be certain before eliminating any of the scenarios. "It is absolutely right that we are subject to the same high standards of investigation as anyone else. Kate and I have, and will continue, to assist the police in every possible way. "We hope there is a breakthrough very soon. In the meantime, the campaign to keep the public involved in the search for Madeleine continues. "We are always trying to think of ideas that will reach people who may not have heard of Madeleine's disappearance."

Yesterday the father of a missing Portuguese girl claimed police were trying to "frame" Madeleine's parents.

Leandro Silva said he feared the couple were being "set up" like his wife, Leanor Cipriano, who is serving 16 years after being convicted of murdering her nine-year-old daughter Joana.

Detective Goncalo Amaral, one of the senior detectives in the hunt for Madeleine, is an official suspect in allegations against police in the Cipriano case. Three other officers have been accused of torture, a fourth with omitting evidence and a fifth with falsifying documents.

Three years ago Joana vanished seven miles from the spot where Madeleine went missing. Her body has never been found.

Joana's mother claims a confession was beaten out of her to disguise police blunders.

Mr Silva said:
"I am worried Kate will be framed for a crime she did not commit, the way it happened to my wife."

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