Russell O'Brien has been forced to deny his involvement in Madeleine's disappearanceA smear campaign waged against Kate and Gerry McCann is diverting police from the real problem of finding Madeleine, a close friend said today.
David Payne, who was dining with the McCanns the night the three-year-old vanished, spoke publicly about the investigation today for the first time.
Mr Payne is upset that the McCanns and other close friends on holiday in Praia da Luz in Portugal when Maddy went missing have been dragged into the inquiry.
Today a senior police officer briefed Portuguese media that the McCanns should not go home because the investigation is at a possibly decisive phase.
The implication - that the McCanns or their friends have some involvement in her disappearance 111 days ago - is being seen as yet another smear.
Police have briefed reporters that Madeleine died in the apartment - was either murdered or killed accidentally - and have increasingly come to discount the theory that she was abducted.
One of the other friends on the trip, Russell O'Brien, a consultant from Exeter, has been forced to deny his involvement in Madeleine's disappearance after intense media speculation. He is now considering suing certain publications.
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Madeleine has been missing since May 3
Read more...Mr Payne, a senior research fellow in cardiovascular sciences at Leicester University, was on holiday with his doctor wife Fiona, 34, their two children and Mrs Payne's mother, Dianne Webster, when Madeleine went missing.
He said today: "We don't want to be caught up in a media showdown. We just want Madeleine to come back and it is just saddening that other events are taking over. It is awful to see what is being written. All these smears and rumours are overshadowing the important thing which is to get Madeleine back."
Mr Payne said the friends remained in "regular contact".
His intervention came as the police inquiry appeared again to have stalled. The only official suspect, British-born Robert Murat, is expected to be formally cleared.
Sources have suggested Portuguese detectives have fallen out with British police over the delivery of potentially vital forensic results from the Birmingham lab.
According to reports, while one test for blood found in the McCanns' apartment is definitely from a man, another sample has still to be formally identified.
If that blood sample turned out to come from Madeleine that would add weight to the theory that she died in the room.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-476800/Madeleine-stop-smears-concentrate-investigation-says-friend.html#ixzz13lwWPUYm