31/01/2017 19:55 GMT | Updated 31/01/2017 20:24 GMT

Madeleine McCann's Parents Lose Case Against Police Officer Who Said They Were Involved In Disappearance

His claims were 'within acceptable limits in an open and democratic society'.

Madeleine McCann’s parents have lost an appeal in their libel case against the police officer who accused them of being involved in their daughter’s disappearance.

Portugal’s Supreme Court ruled that Kate and Gerry McCann cannot sue detective Goncalo Amaral over a book he wrote about the case.

Madeleine disappeared from where her family were staying in Portugal’s Algarve region in May 2007, days before her fourth birthday.

The case provoked huge media interest and what happened to the girl remains unknown.

Francisco Seco/AP
Kate McCann and Gerry McCann

Amaral previously won an appeal against a libel conviction that ordered he pay the McCanns more than €500,000 in damages.

After he won the appeal, the couple went to the country’s highest court but it ruled against them on Tuesday.

A court official told The Associated Press that the court ruled the allegations are protected by the country’s laws on freedom of expression.

Ellen Branagh/PA Archive
Goncalo Amaral outside the Palace of Justice in Lisbon

The judges decided his claims were not abusive and “were within acceptable limits in an open and democratic society,” the AP said.

In 2015, Amaral was ordered to pay the McCanns damages but not as much as the €1.2 million they were seeking.

Amaral argued in court that his 2008 book, ‘The Truth Of The Lie’, stemmed from his police investigation and his conclusion about the McCanns had already been reported in the Portuguese media. 

British police are still looking into Madeleine’s disappearance but Portuguese police closed their investigation.