Madeleine McCann's Mother Kate McCann 'Had Suicidal Thoughts'

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The mother of missing Madeleine McCann had suicidal thoughts after a Portuguese police chief claimed she had covered up her daughter's death, a libel trial reportedly heard.

Psychologist Alan Pike gave evidence about the distress Kate McCann suffered after Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral published a book on Madeleine's disappearance on the Algarve.

He reportedly told Lisbon's civil court that following the publication of The Truth Of The Lie in July 2008, Mrs McCann "thought about not being around anymore".

Trauma specialist Mr Pike met Kate and Gerry McCann two days after their daughter's disappearance on May 3 2007 to offer them psychological support and has been in touch with them ever since.

According to the AFP news agency, he told the court: "Kate talked about not being around anymore, and referred to killing herself as an option.

"I deduced it was an indication of how she felt rather than something she ever intended to do."

The McCanns have strongly denied accusations levelled against them in Mr Amaral's book that they hid their daughter's body after she died in an accident and faked an abduction.

He also suggested the couple cashed in on £2 million of public donations.

They say his claims damaged the hunt for Madeleine and exacerbated the anguish suffered by her relatives.

If the legal action is successful, they stand to gain around £1 million in damages.

Mr Amaral, 56, was removed from the Portuguese investigation in October 2007 after criticising the British police.

The book was released just three days after the McCanns - made suspects over their daughter's death in September 2007 - had that status formally lifted by Portuguese police.

The former detective denies defamation and says his claims are already contained in police and court case files on Madeleine which have been made public.

Madeleine, who was then nearly four, disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant with friends.

British detectives launched a fresh investigation into her disappearance in July - two years into a review of the case - and believe she could still be alive.

The Portuguese investigation into Madeline's disappearance is officially closed.

Mrs McCann, who was not in attendance today, travelled to Portugal for the start of the trial last week to "stop the damage" she believes is being caused to the search for her daughter by a former local police chief.

She could have been called as a witness but is not expected to give evidence.

The case, reportedly due to finish hearing evidence in November, continues.