20 October 2007
David Pilditch in Praia da Luz
SCIENTIFIC tests now support the denials by Gerry and Kate McCann that they ever sedated their children, it emerged yesterday.
The development further undermines an essential plank in the case being prepared by the Portugese police.
The development suggests other scientific and DNA test results will explain other disputed allegations against them.
The tests were carried out on the couple's two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, as part of their defence case. It could reduce the likelihood of them being charged.
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell refused to discuss the development, but added: "I am happy to confirm once again that Kate and Gerry have never, ever, used sedatives on their children." Friends of the McCanns said they believe Portugese police are behind a smear campaign against them, which would account for recent claims that Gerry is not Madeleine's father, there were seven children in their apartment the night she vanished, and that they sedated their children. But Portuguese police admitted yesterday they made a crucial error.
The night the child vanished, police allowed Kate and Gerry to move to a nearby apartment, taking all their possessions. Yesterday a high-ranking police source said the move is likely to have led to vital evidence being lost or destroyed.
Reports in Portugal said the McCanns were allowed to move to an apartment within the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz unchecked. The first flat was never formally searched by police, who have been criticised for making basic errors in the vital early hours after Madeleine's disappearance.
The investigation has gained new momentum following the appointment of Paulo Rebelo, Portugal's second most senior policeman, to head the inquiry. He is continuing to treat Madeleine's parents as the chief suspects.
An unnamed Policia Judiciaria source told Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas: "It is obvious the house had to be sealed off but with everything inside and without it being touched. That's not what happened.
" The report said: "The PJ let the McCanns 'clean' the apartment after Maddie's disappearance. The move could have been fatal to the investigation and, on top of it all, it was authorized by the PJ." Yesterday friends said the McCanns were dismayed at the prospect that the police had given up looking for their daughter.
One said: "Kate and Gerry obviously want their arguido status lifted, but what they want most of all is for answers about what happened to their daughter.
"Kate and Gerry did move apartments. They took guidance from the police about what they could take with them. If the police are now saying the crime scene wasn't preserved properly then that is a matter for them." Yesterday 24 Horas reported one theory that British ex-pat Robert Murat could have helped the couple.
Murat, 33, also denies being involved in Maddie's disappearance.