MADELEINE McCann's parents Kate and Gerry have lost the latest stage of their legal battle with a retired Portuguese detective.

Lawyers for the couple had argued their right to a private and family life was breached by the way Portuguese courts dealt with their long-running libel battle against Goncalo Amaral.

He claimed in a book, TV documentary and newspaper interview that the McCanns covered up their daughter Madeleine's accidental death.

The court found that the couple's reputation had been damaged by the fact that they were made official suspects in the case for a short time, rather than Mr Amaral's comments.

The McCanns now have three months to appeal the decision.

Madeleine, three, disappeared while on holiday with her family in Algarve resort Praia da Luz in May 2007.

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In May the McCanns said it was essential they find out the truth as they marked the 15th anniversary of their daughter's disappearance.

Convicted sex offender Christian B was declared a suspect in the case by Portuguese officials in April as a 15-year legal deadline approached.

He has been under investigation by German officials for two years.

Earlier this year German investigators found new evidence against the prime suspect.

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And this month lead prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters said he could face fresh sex assault charges in weeks.

He said there will be an announcement soon on five more cases unrelated to Madeleine.

Mr Wolters added: “The investigation into Maddie is still ongoing. A conclusion is not in sight.

“I really can’t say how long the investigation will take.

"It is also not certain whether an indictment can be made in the end.

“Regarding all allegations except Maddie, we will issue a press release in about two to three weeks.

“It may well go in the direction of an indictment.”

The suspect – who is 45 now – was a drifter who regularly travelled between Germany and Portugal.

He has been linked to a series of sex attacks on the Algarve including the rape of an Irish tour rep, and he was jailed for raping a pensioner.

In 2007 it is believed he was living near Praia da Luz and was in the resort on the night Madeleine vanished.

German investigators have previously pinpointed in the immediate vicinity of the Ocean Club where he took a 30-minute phone call.

However shameless ex-cop Amaral has claimed Christian B is a "scapegoat" as he repeated his slurs against Kate and Gerry.

He said in 2020: “He’s an almost perfect suspect. All that’s missing for him to become the perfect suspect is for him to be dead.”

Asked if he believed Christian B was responsible, he added: “To answer that question it has to be proven first that an abduction took place.”

Amaral – who led the initial bungled missing child probe in 2007 – named the parents arguidos weeks after Madeleine vanished.

He later cashed in with a controversial 2008 book claiming Kate and Gerry had covered up her accidental death in the holiday apartment.

The McCanns claimed the book was "unfounded and grossly defamatory" and launched legal action against Amaral in 2009.

In 2015, Kate and Gerry were awarded around £450,000 in libel damages by a Portuguese court, although this decision was later overturned.

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