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Madeleine McCann's parents have lost a court appeal to silence a former police officer who claims they covered up their daughter's death.
Portuguese Supreme Court judges met in Lisbon this morning to resolve the couple's battle against a decision last April to reverse their 2015 libel win against Goncalo Amaral.
The hearing took place in private and an official public decision will not be made until later in the week.
Gerry and Kate McCann could now face a huge legal bill, which had been frozen until the outcome of the final appeal.
The couple have been engaged in an eight-year fight over a book written by Amaral, who led the initial hunt when then-three-year-old Madeleine vanished from their Algarve holiday apartment in May 2007.
Credit: PA Images
In 2015, a Lisbon court ordered Goncalo Amaral to pay Kate and Gerry €500,000 (£429,000) in compensation for the claims made in the book. However, last year, an appeals court overturned that conviction before reaching Portugal's top court.
The McCanns' Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, lodged the couple's new appeal last May after vowing to fight the U-turn by judges over Amaral's book.
Criticising the ruling in favour of the ex-police chief, Duarte said the ruling had left the couple 'seething'. She said: "This decision was an appreciation of the law and not the facts.
"We can appeal to the Supreme Court which we will do as we have instructions from our clients."
The book was published in 2008, three days after Portuguese police formally closed their inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance, clearing the McCanns of any wrongdoing.
Gerry and Kate McCann pictured in 2014. Credit: PA Images
Amaral is understood to have earned £344,000 from his book and a subsequent TV documentary before it was banned.
He claimed in the book Maddie had died in their holiday flat and they had faked her abduction to cover up the tragedy.
Mr Amaral argued in his defence that the claims stemmed from the police investigation and that Portuguese media had already reported the possibility the parents may have played a role in Madeleine's disappearance.
More than £50,000 was raised in support for the detective, donated via a Go Fund Me page, after he was ordered to pay damages.
Speaking ahead of today's hearing, a source close to the case said: "The Supreme Court judges can either confirm the first court's decision that ruled in the McCanns' favour or the Lisbon appeal court judgement that went in Goncalo Amaral's favour.
"The ruling itself will take at least four or five days to come out officially but it's possible there'll be some unofficial guidance by the end of the day on what the ruling is.
Credit: PA Images
"My feeling is that Amaral cannot make another appeal if this goes against him as there is only the European courts and that's too expensive and if it's a decision based on the law and not the facts it's difficult to go to the European court.
"The same would probably be true if the McCanns lost the case."
Police brought an end to all forensic investigations involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in August last year, nine years after she went missing while on a family holiday in Portugal.
Police prepare to dig for Madeleine McCann in Algarve resort town back in 2014. Credit: Ruptly
The investigation, named Operation Grange, was set up by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011, costing £12 million, but has reportedly not helped the police move the investigation forward.
"The final forensics were carried out about three months ago but, sadly, they didn't take us forward," a source told the Mirror. "There are no plans for any further forensic work to take place."
Madeleine disappeared on May 3, 2007, aged three, after her parents left her and her twin siblings alone in an apartment in Praia da Luz, a resort in the Algarve.
The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have spent nine years trying to locate their daughter, but all their attempts have been in vain.
"Until we have answers, until there is news, there will always be hope and we will do everything we can to help find Madeleine," the couple said.
Operation Grange was reportedly shelved due to the growing amount of money being paid by taxpayers towards it and because other areas of the police force facing budget cuts.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
Topics: Madeleine McCann
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