The McCanns believed that Shannon’s family, including her mother Karen, were going through the trauma of having lost their daughter and so set about exploring a donation from a £1m fund.
A source close to Kate told The Sun: “She was deeply upset by Shannon’s abduction and felt sorry for the family. She wanted to help.”
An approach by someone claiming to represent Karen Matthews was made to the McCanns in person, pleading with them to transfer cash.
Consideration of a donation was so advanced that trustees of the McCann fund began exploring which name to put on a cheque.
But at that stage, police told them a donation to the Matthews was ill-advised.
McCann spokesperson Clarence Mitchell told The Sun: “Police advised us not to hand over money.
“We heard things had come to light in investigations.
“It is beyond belief anyone could’ve sought to exploit poor Madeleine’s plight.”
It is beyond belief anyone could’ve sought to exploit poor Madeleine’s plight.Clarence Mitchell, McCann spokesperson
Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished in 2007 from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar nearby.
The McCanns have spoken of their bitter regret about leaving her and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie alone.
The missing girl would now be a teenager.
The family has never given up the search for their daughter and remain hopeful she is alive.
It comes just days after it was reported Matthews had blasted the McCanns.
Julie Bushby, who coordinated the search for missing Shannon, told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner Matthews had raged: “We’re too lower class for them”, adding “it’s one rule for them and another for us, but she [Kate McCann] was a dreadful mum.”