Justine McGuinness, the former spokesperson and public relations adviser for the McCann’s is suing the British tabloid “The People” for libel. McGuinness, who spent several months working alongside Kate and Gerry McCann, accused the tabloid of having seriously damaged her reputation by publishing an article in October 2007 suggesting that the couple’s spokesperson had overcharged the Madeleine Fund.
The article, entitled “Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k” (*), suggested that Justine McGuinness had been relieved of her duties due to a reimbursement request for excessive expenses, as well as the inference that she had persuaded the couple to hide the true reason for her dismissal.
Considering that the article was a slur on her honesty and integrity, Justine McGuiness, who was appreciated by British journalists in Praia da Luz for her availability, confirmed that she had written a letter to the tabloid. The paper refused to offer any excuses or a retraction.
The role of “The People” in the McCann affair
It is not the first time since the beginning of the McCann affair that the tabloid has published articles attacking the image or credibility of those who are not (or are no longer) assisting the McCann’s and those close to them. The weekly has attacked the work of the Portuguese authorities, in particular the PJ and Gonçalo Amaral, the former head of the investigation. Last August, James Millbank bylined an article doubting the existence of 24 photos taken on the night of 3 May by tourists at the Tapas Bar.
James Millbank never explained why he doubted their existence, but, unsurprisingly, the couple’s solicitors used the article (word for word) to threaten the authors (myself included) of the article revealing their existence and, as “arranged”, James Millbank obtained his transfer, a few months later, to the Daily Mail.