Gerry McCann was made a suspect in his daughter Madeleine's disappearance after a British expert said he should be investigated for 'homicide', a Portuguese court heard yesterday.
Criminal profiler Lee Rainbow recommended that police on the Algarve investigate the doctor and his wife Kate because of 'contradictions' in his statement.
The report by Mr Rainbow, of the National Policing Improvement Agency, was sent to Portugal in June 2007, a month after the three-year-old disappeared.
Kate and Gerry McCann outside court in Lisbon yesterday. They are suing Mr Amaral for libel over his allegations that the couple faked Madeleine's death
The couple want Gonzolo Amaral to be legally barred from accusing them of being involved in Madeleine's disappearance.
The detective was sacked from the investigation after he made an outspoken attack on English police, accusing them of failing to investigate the McCanns. He has since retired from the police force.
His lawyer Antonio Cabrita, reading from a Portuguese translation of the previously- confidential report, said: 'The family is a lead that should be followed.
The McCanns want Gonzolo Amaral (pictured yesterday) to be legally barred from accusing them of being involved in Madeleine's disappearance
The lawyer added: 'Portuguese police had only considered the abduction theory. It was British police who said they must consider homicide as well.'
Mr Cabrita did not outline what ' contradictions' had been found in Mr McCann's statements and refused to give any further details after the Lisbon hearing.
Mr Rainbow, 37, leads a team of five criminal profilers at the NPIA, and specialises in sex crimes and murders.
The Home Office agency, which describes itself as 'part of the police service', aims to improve police use of information, evidence and science and to support operations.
It is understood to have provided Portuguese police with a 'checklist' of how to proceed.
A spokesman said last night: 'In disappearance cases it is common for the NPIA to advise officers to consider the possibility of the involvement of family and close friends.
'This is good practice for investigating cases. The NPIA gave similar generic advice to Portuguese police.'
Mr Rainbow, who has worked on major investigations including the Ipswich prostitute murders and the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, did not say there was any evidence the McCanns were involved.
But his confidential report appears to have been a turning point in the Portuguese investigation.
Madeleine's distraught parents were named as official suspects a few weeks later, despite Portuguese police failing to find any evidence against them.
The report by Mr Rainbow, of the National Policing Improvement Agency, was sent to Portugal in June 2007, a month after three-year-old Madeleine disappeared
The 50-year-old ex-detective has alleged in a new book that she died in a 'tragic accident' and her parents faked an abduction.
Lawyers for the McCanns say he is using the book and the court case to take 'revenge' on them for the end of his career.
Mr and Mrs McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, are suing Mr Amaral for libel over his allegations and are seeking £1.2million in damages and compensation.
They have won an injunction which bars him from repeating his allegations but he is trying to overturn it, claiming it affects his right to freedom of speech.
The hearing ended yesterday, and the judge will give her verdict next Thursday.
Kate McCann, a former GP, admitted last night that she had found it painful to listen to three days of evidence in the court. But she insisted the couple had been right to take legal action.
She said: 'I think this will truly help the search for Madeleine and that's why we have gone through with it. It hasn't been easy but if it helps, then we will go through anything.'
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