The parents of the missing British girl Madeleine McCann are distraught after leaflets were distributed to homes in the village in Central England where they live claiming that they are responsible for their daughter's disappearance.
Despite the enormous publicity campaign that was launched after the disappearance from a Portuguese holiday apartment in May 2007 of the then 3-year-old Madeleine McCann, the fate of the young girl still remains a mystery.
After the initial outpourings of sympathy for Madeleine's parents criticism of their actions on the night that their daughter disappeared, and the campaign that they launched to find her, started to surface.
At one stage Kate and Gerry McCann, both 41-year-old doctors, found themselves declared as "arguidos" by the Portuguese police. There is some debate as to whether an "arguido" is a formal suspect in a case under investigation but the consensus seems to be that it moves a person beyond the status of being a mere witness in a case.
Regardless of the correct interpretation of the status of an "arguido" the McCanns were eventually cleared of any possible involvement in their daughter's disappearance. However there were those who, even if they did not believe the parents of Madeleine to be involved in her disappearance, considered that at the very least Kate and Gerry McCann were extremely negligent and were not being held accountable for that negligence.
Former lawyer Tony Bennett, 60, is one of those who considers that the McCanns have not faced the full legal scrutiny that they deserve and so has established a group that calls itself the Madeleine Foundation. As the Daily Mail reports two years ago Mr Bennett's attempt to bring a private prosecution against the McCanns on the grounds of child neglect was rejected by magistrates in Leicester because they ruled that they had no jurisdiction in a case relating to something that happened abroad. Commenting at the time Mr Bennett said:We are a group of people who want to get to the truth of what happened to Madeleine
But Mr Bennett remained undeterred and the next move by his foundation and its supporters was to produce a 64-page book which was given the title "What really happened to Madeleine McCann? Sixty reasons to suggest that she was not abducted’.
And the Madeleine Foundation has now stepped up its campaign against Kate and Gerry McCann, who are also the parents of 4-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, by distributing a 4-page leaflet entitled "Ten reasons to suggest that Madeleine McCann was not abducted" to the 10,000 people who live in and around the village of Rothley, Leicestershire where the McCann family also have their home.
According to the Sun amongst the accusations contained in the leaflet is one asserting that if Madeleine is no longer alive and did in fact die in the Praia da Luz apartment from which it is claimed she was quite possibly abducted then those responsible in some way for that death "got away with it".
The leaflet, which was delivered to homes on the street where the McCanns live but not to their actual home, is said to have "totally horrified" the missing girl's parents, who are now considering legal action against the foundation which charges members £10 ($16.50) to join.
Clarence Mitchell, a former news reporter with the BBC, is the spokesperson for the McCann family and he issued the following statement in response to the distribution of the leaflet:We do not wish to dignify the actions of the so-called Madeleine Foundation with any response. We do feel it is important, however, to make the general public aware that the foundation has no connection whatsoever with our family or those helping us find Madeleine or any law enforcement agencies.
We strongly believe the actions of this organisation do not have Madeleine’s best interests at heart. If anything, it is hampering our efforts to find Madeleine and achieve justice on her behalf
As some residents of Rothley join in the condemnation of the leaflet Debbie Butler, who chairs the Madeleine Foundation, has defended the actions of her group, stating:We were perfectly within our rights to distribute the leaflets