Madeleine: Ex-Norfolk suspect is cleared

Robert Murat - the first person to be named a suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance - has spoken of his huge relief at being officially cleared by the Portuguese authorities.

Robert Murat - the first person to be named a suspect in Madeleine McCann's disappearance - has spoken of his huge relief at being officially cleared by the Portuguese authorities.

Mr Murat, 34, who used to live at Hockering, said he feared a small number of people would continue to doubt his innocence and urged police to continue looking for the little girl.

"It's a good feeling but it doesn't take away from the fact that there is still a child missing, which is very sad," he said.

"It would be better to be cleared and know exactly what happened, and have a feeling of finality, but that hasn't happened.


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"I was dragged into this because of Madeleine's disappearance so I would like to know what happened - I would like to know where she is and what happened to her.'

Mr Murat admits to feeling bitter about his experience but now intends to sit down with his family and "get everything into perspective'.

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"At this moment I don't know what direction I'm going in,' he said.

"It is going to take a few weeks or months to work out exactly where I am going from here.'

He added: "It could have been unbearable if it hadn't been for the family and close friends around me. They have been an absolutely huge support.

"It has been a strain on everybody, it's been completely devastating for everybody. But it seems we've got through to the end now.'

Mr Murat was born in Hammersmith, west London, in 1973 and went to school in Portugal before moving back to Britain as a young man.

After getting married he returned to live in the Algarve, but his marriage broke down and his wife Dawn went back to the UK.

He was on the verge of starting a new life by launching an internet-based estate agency business when Madeleine's disappearance turned his world upside down.

Mr Murat lives in the seaside village of Praia da Luz with his mother, Jenny, just 150 yards from the McCanns' holiday apartment.

Fluent in both English and Portuguese, he aided the McCanns and police by acting as a translator after Madeleine vanished.

Ironically it was being helpful that got him into trouble after a British journalist raised concerns about his behaviour and alerted the police.

Mr Murat said: "I did what I felt I should do. Unfortunately it bit me on the arse and destroyed my life in the process.'

Last week he received £600,000 in libel damages from four newspaper groups over "seriously defamatory” articles connecting him to Madeleine's disappearance.

This money will help him and his family to rebuild their lives, he said.

Mr Murat is currently in the UK seeing his family, including his young daughter Sofia, but will return to the Algarve shortly to decide on his future plans.

"I hope in the future something comes out that proves that I had nothing to do with this - in other words resolves the case,” he said.

"I do hope they keep on investigating, and I hope they find out what happened.”

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