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Maddy suspect to sue.

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A suspect in the case of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann is to sue 12 top British media outlets, his lawyers said yesterday, in what could be the country's biggest ever libel claim.A Robert Murat, 34, denies any involvement in the disappearance of McCann, who vanished from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese beach resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year, nine days short of her fourth birthday.

The British expatriate, a self-employed property developer, lives 100 metres from the apartment. A statement from London-based law firm Simons Muirhead and Burton confirmed they were "representing Robert Murat in respect of a number of libel actions". The firm named the television broadcaster Sky, the national newspapers the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, News of the World, The Sun, plus The Scotsman, London daily the Evening Standard and morning city freesheet Metro.

Litigation expert Caroline Kean, from media law specialists Wiggin, said if Murat successfully argued that the articles inferred he was involved in the abduction or murder of McCann, then his claims could result in a British record payout. "You could expect at least [pounds sterling]200,000 ($395,000) per paper, per claim, and that would clear a total payout of [pounds sterling]2million ($4million)," she told The Observer newspaper.

The weekly said it was the largest-ever number of separate libel claims to be brought against the British media by the same person on the same issue.

The largest British libel award stands at [pounds sterling]1.5million. Murat has been the subject of intense media scrutiny since he was the subject of a Sunday Mirror story which was headlined "Why I shopped Maddy suspect."

In March, McCann's parents Gerry, 39, and Kate, 40, won a libel settlement and an apology from Express Newspapers over suggestions that they were involved in her disappearance. The group paid [pounds sterling]550,000 ($1.08million) in damages to their Find Madeleine fund. The McCann case triggered worldwide headlines as her parents launched an international campaign to find her.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 14, 2008
Words:368
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