• Gerry McCann speaks out in defence of his wife• Kate's father brands allegations 'disgusting'
• Madeleine's aunt says suggestions Kate killed her daughter are 'utterly ludicrous'
Gerry McCann says his wife is innocent - as she was named as official suspect in the disappearance of her daughter Madeleine by Portuguese police.
The police made Kate McCann an "arguida" at the end of another five hours questioning today, during which they "offered to do a deal if she confessed to accidentally killing Madeleine".
Gerry McCann made his declaration on his blog on the "Find Madeleine" website before he arriving at the police station in Portimao to be interviewed.
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Kate McCann arriving at the Portimao police station earlier today
Read more...He said: "Everyone will know that Kate attended for interview as a witness with the Portuguese police today.
- Police tell Maddy's mother: Confess and you'll only get two years in jail
- Robert Murat expected to be cleared of involvement in Madeleine's disappearance
- Timeline: Key events in the search for missing Madeleine McCann
- Madeleine: The theories surrounding her disappearance
- Just what did the Portuguese police find out from forensic tests?
- Madeleine: The high profile figures who joined the campaign
"This is only the second time Kate has been interviewed and although it was a long day, going on past midnight, this was shorter than my second interview which lasted 13 hours!
"The suggestion that Kate is involved in Madeleine's disappearance is ludicrous. Anyone who knows anything about the 3rd May knows that Kate is completely innocent.
"We will fight this all the way and we will not stop looking for Madeleine."
The questions around Madeleine's disappearance have been prompted by claims that police found the toddler's blood in a hire car the family leased 25 days after she went missing.
Friends and family say Kate is living in fear of being charged in her daughter's disappearance, with the Portuguese press reporting that the police believe she is involved.
Gerry is still being interviewed in Portimao this evening. He has not been named a suspect.
Kate McCann's father Brian Healy spoke of his disgust at the latest allegations.
He said: "This is just a waste of time and a farce. It would be a joke if it wasn't so disgusting."
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Gerry McCann arrived at the police station to face being grilled by police just minutes before his wife was releasedThe idea that Madeleine McCann's parents could harm the little girl is "ludicrous", a family member said today.
Philomena McCann, Madeleine's aunt, also told Sky News that police were suggesting the little girl's mother had killed her accidentally.
"They are suggesting that Kate has in some way accidentally killed Madeleine, then kept her body, then got rid of it," she said.
"I have never heard anything so utterly ludicrous in my entire life."
She said there could be no evidence against Madeleine's mother because she was innocent.
"Unfortunately this distracts from looking for the real perpetrator," she said.
"My sister and mother went out to see them and help them pack and to try and bring them home," she said.
"My mum is completely beside herself - she's distressed and very, very upset as we all are."
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Gerry and Kate McCann on a beach in Praia da Luz before the recent allegations changed the focus of the investigation into Madeleine's deathShe agreed the police appeared to be suggesting that Madeleine died accidentally and that her body was then stored and later taken away by car.
Asked if this was the allegation, she said: "Yes, that is (it)."
She added: "Can you imagine, the whole world has been watching Gerry and Kate for the last four months.
"Where do they hide their wee girl when they are in a foreign country where they just don't know people?
"The suggestions are just ludicrous."
Ms McCann went on: "My mum is very distressed and she is just crying a lot."
She said: "We are just beside ourselves with worry now - because where has this evidence come from?
"How come things have changed so drastically?
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Kate McCann's father said that allegations that his daughter had anything to do with Madeleine's death was 'disgusting'"How can Kate possibly be accused of this? It's shocking."
Earlier Ms McCann told Sky that Gerry McCann was not the main suspect.
"For some unknown reason there's something about a sniffer dog sniffing Kate.
"Suddenly a dog can talk and says she smelled a death.
"How can that be when a British sniffer dog came out months after Madeleine's case?"
"Kate and Gerry have pushed this investigation as much as they possibly can. To actually claim that Kate is a suspect is ludicrous as much as it is insulting."
When it was put to her that the arguida status would give her some legal protection, she said: "They don't need to be protected by the law. They needed to be protected by the perpetrator and we have to focus on catching the perpetrator.
"Kate and Gerry don't need protection. They are innocent of all these ludicrous suggestions."
On the possibility that there may be charges, she added: "It's a possibility, it is not something we have discussed in the same way."
She added: "It just seems ridiculous. It's so untrue its just not possible."
Brian Kennedy, a great uncle of the missing Leicestershire youngster has also spoken out.
He said: "As you can imagine, the family of Kate and Gerry McCann have been shocked by the news of recent events in Portugal and the campaign against them, and are sure that all those who have given their tremendous support over the past months will be equally amazed and disbelieving of what this wonderful couple are having to contend with, having already suffered the loss of their much-loved Madeleine.
"The notion that either of them would or could harm one of their children is ludicrous."
Mr Kennedy said the couple were "absolutely devoted" to Madeleine and the twins and that no one who knows them would believe that they would hurt them in any way.
He added: "Their family and friends support them totally and we are sure that everyone else who has been kind in their letters and prayers, and financially, will continue to believe in them and hope for a speedy and just outcome to the present situation."
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Rachael Oldfield and Fiona Payne: Two of the friends who were with the McCanns in PortugalA family friend said: "They are treating Kate McCann as if she is involved in some way in the death of her daughter. She is amazed and horrified that she has been named an arguido."
Family and friends immediately came to Mrs McCann's support, dismissing any suggestion she could have been involved as "ridiculous".
"They have done nothing. She has done nothing," the friend said.
"She really has worked incredibly hard to try and find Madeleine. She's a fantastically loving and caring mother.
"I could not imagine Kate McCann harming a fly."
The friend said: "It's an absolutely ludicrous suggestion."
Asked if the family would be shocked if Mrs McCann were to be charged, the friend said: "Nothing now would surprise us."
The McCanns were having dinner with a group of seven friends from the UK in a tapas restaurant opposite the Algarve apartment from where the four-year-old, then three, vanished.
Among them were Dr Russell O'Brien and his wife Jane Tanner, who themselves have two young children.
Madeleine with her siblings Sean and AmelieDr O'Brien, who lives in Exeter, was forced to make a statement last month, attacking "completely untrue and extremely hurtful" reports about him in the Portuguese newspapers.
Portuguese police also said there was "no basis" for the allegations. Dr O'Brien and his wife moved to Exeter from Leicester shortly before the holiday in Praia da Luz.
On the night Madeleine disappeared, Dr O'Brien left the table at around the time she is believed to have been snatched.
But it is understood he was looking after his young daughter, who was ill and vomiting in her room.
Another three diners were Dr Fiona Payne and her husband David, a senior research fellow at Leicester University, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.
The Paynes were among those who stayed on in the Algarve to support the McCanns for several weeks after the abduction.
They also have two children and according to one newspaper were the only ones in the group using a baby monitor the night Madeleine disappeared.
A fourth couple at dinner that night, other than the McCanns themselves, were Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, another doctor.
Mrs Oldfield, a recruitment consultant, and her husband, who both live in London, have a daughter aged about 22 months.
They knew the McCanns because Mr Oldfield and Mr McCann worked together at a Leicester hospital.
Last month, the mum-of-one spoke out about "hurtful and all rather ludicrous" reports in the Portuguese press.
"I think there are some leaks coming from the police, but a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue," Mrs Oldfield told the Evening Standard.
"Whether a journalist has had a bit of information and made the rest up, or the police are feeding some truth or untruths, I don't know."
In early July, Portuguese police brought together some of the friends and their chief suspect at the time to discuss discrepancies over what happened on the night.
Mrs Oldfield, 36, Dr O'Brien, 36, and Dr Payne, 34, compared their versions of events on May 3 with the then only named suspect - Robert Murat.
It is understood they saw Briton Mr Murat on the night Madeleine disappeared, while he has insisted he was at his nearby home all evening with his mother Jenny.
At the time of the interviews Mrs Oldfield said: "We are more than happy to help the police with their ongoing investigation.
"All of us want to do anything we can to help find Madeleine and reunite her with her loving parents."
The statement said: "We are totally appalled at any suggestion that Kate had anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance.
"She is innocent; we know this because we are her friends, we were with her on the night, and we witnessed first hand the unimaginable grief Kate and Gerry suffered and continue to suffer.
"We will support them until this nightmare is over. We also hope that this will not detract from the search for Madeleine who remains missing."
Kate McCann's brother-in-law John McCann said the decision to make her a suspect was "unbelievable".
Speaking from his home in Glasgow, he said: "We cannot believe the line that they are going down - we just find it unbelievable."
Madeleine McCann: missing since May 3rdA colleague and friend of Madeleine's father also said that Gerry and Kate McCann "have no capacity to harm their family".
Dr Doug Skehan leapt to the defence of fellow cardiologist Dr McCann and his wife after it was announced Portuguese police are expected to name Mrs McCann as a formal suspect in the disappearance of her daughter.
The clinical director at Glenfield Hospital, in Leicester, said: "I am horrified to be honest that Kate or Gerry could themselves be suspects.
"They are two fine people who are great parents and who have gone through great trauma.
"This is my personal reaction, but as someone who has been close to the situation, both knowing Gerry and Kate and their characters, I am absolutely sure in my own mind that they have no capacity to harm their family.
"From my understanding of the events surrounding the abduction I believe this is just not a credible interpretation."
"In the hospital there is a sense of disbelief. Everyone who has spoken to me about this today wanted to send their support to Gerry and Kate."
Timeline: Key events in the search for missing Madeleine McCannLast updated at 13:30 07 September 2007
Madeleine went missing on May 3rdHere are the key events in the search for missing Madeleine McCann:
Thursday May 3
• Kate and Gerry McCann leave their three children in bed in their holiday apartment in the Ocean Club resort in the Algarve village of Praia da Luz and head for dinner with friends at a nearby tapas restaurant.
They check on the youngsters - Madeleine, three, and twins Sean and Amelie, two - regularly as part of an arrangement with other couples on holiday with them.
At 10pm Mrs McCann goes to check on the children and finds Madeleine has disappeared.
Fellow holidaymakers, staff at the resort and police spend most of the night frantically searching for the missing girl.
Friday May 4
• Sniffer dogs are brought in, the Spanish and border police and airports are notified and volunteer teams continue combing the village, resort and beach for clues.
Fears grow that Madeleine has been taken against her will and her parents accuse the Portuguese police of not doing enough to find her.
The McCanns make an emotional plea, directly appealing to their daughter's abductors and speaking of their "anguish and despair".
Saturday May 5
• Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann criticises the Portuguese police, claiming they had played down her disappearance and were being "uncommunicative".
Detectives say they do now believe she was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal, and say they have a sketch of a suspect.
Sunday May 6
• The McCanns attend an emotional Mother's Day service in Praia da Luz at which prayers are said for Madeleine and her family in both Portuguese and English.
Monday May 7
• It emerges that police are investigating a claim a man was seen dragging a girl towards the marina at Lagos, a short drive from Praia da Luz.
Portuguese police hold a chaotic press conference where they say they cannot give Madeleine's family any firm assurance that she is still alive or still in the region.
Tuesday May 8
• People in Madeleine's home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, hold a silent vigil for the family.
Portuguese reports claim detectives are investigating British paedophiles with links to the Algarve.
Wednesday May 9
• Police examine a CCTV tape from a service station just a few miles from Praia da Luz showing a woman with a girl fitting Madeleine's description.
An internet appeal in English, Portuguese and Spanish is launched while Crimestoppers also creates an international number for people with information.
Thursday May 10
• Mrs McCann leads villagers and holidaymakers in prayer at the local church in Praia da Luz one week after Madeleine's disappearance.
Police say in a press conference that the search for Madeleine is being wound down.
Saturday May 12
• Madeleine's fourth birthday.
Her parents mark the day by calling for people to redouble their efforts to find her. After spending most of the day away from Praia da Luz, the couple attend a special birthday mass in the village where Mr McCann speaks about the impact of the abduction on the family.
He also says for the first time that the couple are convinced Madeleine is alive.
The total reward being offered by business figures, celebrities and a national newspaper for information leading to Madeleine's safe return reaches £2.5 million.
Chancellor Gordon Brown expresses his sympathy for Madeleine's parents and says his thoughts are with them.
Sunday May 13
• It emerges London lawyers from the International Family Law Group have flown to Portugal to assist the McCanns, and are setting up a special "fighting fund" to allow members of the public to make their own financial contribution to the search.
Monday May 14
• Mr McCann says that "until there is concrete evidence to the contrary, we believe Madeleine is safe and is being looked after". Mrs McCann says they cannot consider going home at the moment.
Police launch a search at the home of Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat, just 100 yards from where Madeleine was snatched. Mr Murat is taken in for questioning, but is not formally arrested.
Tuesday May 15
• Police officially class Robert Murat as an "arguido", or suspect. He claims he is being made a "scapegoat" in the investigation. Wednesday May 16
Detectives swoop on the Praia da Luz home of Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, who designed a website for Mr Murat, and interview him.
Madeleine's aunt Philomena McCann travels to Westminster to lobby for support. Gordon Brown pledges to help "in any way he can".
New video images of Madeleine are broadcast at half-time during the Uefa Cup Final between Sevilla and Espanyol in Glasgow.
Thursday May 17
• It emerges that Portuguese police are investigating telephone calls between Sergey Malinka and Robert Murat on the night Madeleine was abducted.
The official website set up to help find Madeleine, www.bringmadeleinehome.com, receives more than 25 million hits.
Posters protesting Robert Murat's innocence appear around the Norfolk village where he used to live.
Sunday May 20
• Mr McCann flies back to the UK for meetings about the Madeleine Fund and to put personal affairs in order.
Monday May 21
• Mr McCann visits Rothley, where he sees thousands of tributes from villagers. He later returns to Portugal.
Thursday May 24
• Madeleine's family releases the last photograph known to have been taken of her before she disappeared.
The happy family snap, taken seven hours before she was abducted, shows the young girl laughing in the sunshine as she dangled her feet in the swimming pool.
A fighting fund for the McCanns' campaign reaches almost £300,000 and the number of hits on the www.findmadeleine.com website reaches 125 million.
Friday May 25
• The McCanns give their first interviews and speak of how the "guilt" of not being with Madeleine when she was abducted will never leave them.
Police finally release the description of the man seen carrying a child on the night of Madeleine's abduction after pressure from the McCanns, their legal team and the British Government.
The man is described as white, approximately 35 to 40 years old, of medium build and 5ft 10ins tall. He was wearing a dark jacket, light beige trousers and dark shoes.
• Kate and Gerry McCann attend an audience with the Pope at the Vatican as they travel around Europe to publicise their campaign to find Madeleine.
Thursday May 31
• Portuguese police say they are trawling through two dossiers, 8cm thick, of emails and messages from clairvoyants who say they know where Madeleine is. They say they are trying to find out if any of the messages could be from her kidnapper.
Wednesday June 6
• While in Berlin, Madeleine's parents are forced to deny any involvement in her abduction when asked by a German journalist if they had anything to do with her disappearance.
Thursday June 7
• A mystery phone call from a man claiming to know Madeleine's whereabouts is received.
The caller provides such detail that Kate and Gerry McCann temporarily put their European search for their daughter on hold in case they need to act. The call is later traced to a mobile phone registered in Argentina.
Wednesday June 13
• An anonymous letter sent to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claims Madeleine's body is buried in deserted scrubland only nine miles from where she was abducted.
Sunday June 17
• Portuguese police say Madeleine's friends and family may have unwittingly destroyed vital evidence in the first few hours after her abduction, during their search for her.
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa says their well-meaning actions could prove "fatal" for the investigation.
Thursday June 21
• The first of a series of reported sightings of a girl resembling Madeleine is reported in Malta. The initial reports spark a flurry of interest in the island with dozens of possible sightings reported in subsequent days and weeks.
Friday June 22
• Hundreds of balloons bearing Madeleine's picture are released across the world as a tribute to mark the 50th day since her disappearance.
Thursday June 28
• Spanish police arrest an Italian man and a Portuguese woman suspected of trying to extort money from Madeleine's parents by offering them information about the missing girl.
They are not believed to have anything to do with her disappearance.
Monday July 2
• The McCanns move out of the apartment in the Ocean Club resort where they have been staying since the abduction to a private property nearby.
Friday July 6
• Dutch police reveal they have arrested a man in Eindhoven suspected of attempting to defraud Gerry and Kate McCann demanding two million euro (£1.35 million) for information on her whereabouts.
Tuesday July 10
• Mr Murat returns to the police station in Portimao for further questioning. He goes there again the following day.
Saturday July 14
• On a short trip back to the UK, Kate and Gerry McCann attend the baptism of two of their godchildren in Skipton, north Yorkshire.
Monday July 16
• Harry Potter author JK Rowling announces she will use the worldwide appeal of her boy wizard to help the search for Madeleine.
Posters of Madeleine are made available to booksellers in more than 200 countries around the world ahead of the publication of the long-awaited final book in her best-selling series on July 21.
Monday July 23
• On a four-day fact-finding visit to the US, Mr McCann meets US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss efforts to tackle child abduction.
Friday August 3
• Details emerge of a possible sighting of Madeleine in Belgium. A child therapist says she is "100% sure" she saw the young girl at a restaurant in the Flemish town of Tongeren, not far from the Dutch border, on July 28.
The witness said the girl was with a couple, a Dutch man and an English-speaking woman, who were acting strangely and not like "normal parents".
Saturday August 4
• Police launch a second search of Robert Murat's house.
Mrs McCann speaks for the first time of her regret at leaving her daughter on the night she disappeared.
She also discloses that as she tucked Madeleine into bed that night, the little girl said: "Mummy, I've had the best day ever. I'm having lots and lots of fun."
Sunday August 5
• The search of Mr Murat's home is completed, with reports suggesting that no new evidence was found.
Monday August 6
• A Portuguese newspaper reports that British sniffer dogs have found traces of blood on a wall in the apartment where Madeleine went missing.
Detectives now believe it is most likely Madeleine is dead, having been killed accidentally, the Jornal de Noticias claimed.
Wednesday August 8
• DNA tests on a milkshake bottle used by the girl seen in Tongeren prove inconclusive.
But Belgian police say the findings do not rule out that Madeleine was present and say they are still hunting the couple's black Volvo car.
A friend of the McCanns says she is disgusted at an apparent smear campaign against them.
Rachael Oldfield, who ate with the McCanns on the night Madeleine disappeared, said: "I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read recently has been completely untrue."
Thursday August 9
• The McCanns end their daily routine of taking their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the creche at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz.
The move follows concerns about photographers taking pictures of their children and disturbing holidaymakers using the child-minding facility.
Mr Murat's lawyer criticises the McCanns' "strange" behaviour in leaving Madeleine alone on the night she vanished.
Francisco Pagarete also claims people in Praia da Luz want "these bloody McCanns" to return home.
The McCanns insist they will not be "bullied" into leaving Portugal by the growing backlash against them.
Friday August 10
• The McCanns launch a new section of the internet video-sharing website YouTube. Called Don't You Forget About Me, it will be devoted to helping to find missing youngsters such as Madeleine.
Mr McCann says the police investigation could now be "starting with a new slate". He tells the BBC: "There has been a shift in the investigation and the way it was proceeding previously.
"Now if that means we're starting with a new slate, we've always said all scenarios are possible, and we have always done everything to co-operate."
Jornal de Noticias reports that Portuguese police want to question a British man who was on holiday in Praia da Luz at the same time as the McCanns and helped in the search for Madeleine. The man arrived in Portugal on April 28, the same day as the McCanns, and left on May 6, the day they should have flown home, the newspaper says.
Saturday August 11
• 100 days since Madeleine disappeared.
The McCanns attend a poignant service of prayers for Madeleine at a church in Praia da Luz.
Portuguese police acknowledge for the first time that Madeleine could be dead. Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa tells the BBC new evidence had given "intensity" to the possibility she was killed. He says the parents are not being considered as suspects.
A McCann family friend says it is "extraordinary" the police had "not had the decency" to tell the couple they now believed Madeleine could be dead before stating it in an on-the-record interview.
Sunday August 12
• Mrs McCann tells Woman's Own magazine that she would rather know her daughter was dead than live in limbo forever.
She says: "Gerry and I have spoken about this and in our heart of hearts we'd both rather know - even if knowing means we have to face the terrible truth that Madeleine might be dead. We both need to know."
Monday August 13
• A British family caught up in the investigation say detectives have cleared them of any link to the case. Solicitor James Gorrod, from Exeter, and his family happened to be in the resort at the same time, but never met the McCanns.
Wednesday August 15
• Blood traces found in the bedroom where Madeleine was sleeping the night the was snatched were not hers, The Times reports. Forensic results show the blood came from a man, it adds.
Thursday August 16
• One of the most senior police officers in Portugal says it is a "strong theory" that Madeleine is dead.
Alipio Ribeiro, national director of the Portuguese judicial police, tells El Mundo that forensic test results on blood traces from the holiday flat are due "imminently". But the quality of the traces found was "not very good" and it was possible they would be inconclusive.
Monday August 20
• Reports suggest the police inquiry has entered a "decisive phase" with detectives poised to carry out a series of new searches. They are also looking again at claims a pensioner disturbed an intruder in her apartment directly above the McCanns' holiday flat just two weeks before Madeleine vanished.
Tuesday August 21
• A friend of the McCanns hits back at smears about him printed in Portuguese newspapers.
Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, was among the group the couple were dining with on the night Madeleine went missing. Portuguese newspapers have printed allegations about him.
In a statement, Dr O'Brien and his wife Jane Tanner said: "These reports in the Portuguese press are completely untrue and extremely hurtful.
"We have spoken to the police today, and have been assured that our status as witnesses has not changed."
Wednesday August 22
• Madeleine may be alive and in Spain, her parents say. The McCanns give interviews to Spain's three top-selling newspapers in which they insist there is a "very real possibility" their daughter has not been killed.
Thursday August 23
• It emerges that police in Spain are investigating a reported sighting of Madeleine. Two women have reported seeing a youngster matching her description with a man at a petrol station near Cartagena, in the south east of the country.
Friday August 24
• Mr McCann attacks a series of police leaks which have fuelled "preposterous" speculation about what happened to his daughter. He says he is disappointed so much information has made its way into the public domain despite Portugal's strict "secrecy of justice" laws.
Saturday August 25
• Mr McCann signals a new scaled-down media campaign to find his missing four-year-old. He says he will be returning to work but insists his daughter may still be alive.
Wednesday August 29
• Mr McCann urges Madeleine's abductor to end the family's 118-day nightmare - if only to assuage "torment" in his or her own soul.
Thursday August 30
• Madeleine's would-be classmates say a poignant prayer for the missing girl on what should have been her first day at school. The four-year-old was due to start at Bishop Ellis Catholic Primary School in Thurmaston, Leicestershire.
Friday August 31
• It emerges that the McCanns are to launch a libel action against a Portuguese newspaper which said police believe they killed their daughter. The action will be against the Tal & Qual paper, based in Oporto.
Thursday September 6
• Mrs McCann arrives at a Portuguese police station to undergo further questioning by detectives.
Mr McCann will be re-interviewed separately by police the next day. They are being interviewed as witnesses. A family friend says the McCanns fear Portuguese detectives are about to name them as suspects in their daughter's disappearance
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