Link seems to have changed..this article possibly deleted.
McCanns accused of pressuring Tapas Nine to 'keep them silent'
Last updated at 15:04pm on 12th November 2007
Madeleine McCann's parents faced fresh allegations today that they are pressurising their friends into keeping silent over the events surrounding their daughter's disappearance.
One of the "Tapas nine" who was dining with the couple on the night Madeleine vanished is said to feel "obliged to keep silent".
Respected Spanish newspaper El Mundo quoted an un-named lawyer, said to represent the friend, criticising the McCanns' advisers.
The lawyer told the newspaper: "My client feels obliged to keep silent about what he can do to help the investigation, and not because of the Portuguese secrecy laws.
"This is very revealing about the strange circumstances surrounding this case.
"It's not that he is scared of the McCanns, but the economic and political lobby surrounding the couple is truly frightening to anybody.
"What my client wants is to reveal the whole truth, but he does not mean to accuse or blame anyone, as that is the job of the police.
"The only thing he wants is to help the police discover the truth about what happened before, during and after that dinner on May 3."
Last week El Mundo reported that lawyers acting for two of the McCanns' friends have contacted Portuguese police to say they wish to "correct" certain parts of their statements.
Gerry and Kate McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied the report and said it was not true that any of the couple's friends want to change their stories.
But the British lawyer, who has an office in London, told El Mundo: "If you take into account all of the pressure that has been placed on my client and on other people, it is perfectly natural and understandable that my client has not told Clarence Mitchell of his decision to hire his own lawyer to co-operate more closely with the police."
Four of the Tapas Nine: (clockwise from top left) Fiona Payne, Jane Tanner, Russell O' Brien, Rachael Oldfield. Not pictured are Matthew Oldfield, David Payne, and Dianne Webster
The lawyer also claimed that on the night of May 3 the McCanns did not call the police until they had discussed the possible implications for them of having left their three children alone in the holiday apartment.
The lawyer said: "The police were only informed after the group in question analysed the problems they could face for having left the children alone, and until now, my client has not had the opportunity to talk for himself about it all."
The lawyer, who is said to have been hired by the friend in September, was also critical of the help the McCanns have been given by the British authorities.
He said: "I understand perfectly that our government is legally obliged to help the McCanns.
"What I can't understand is that they have received help which goes far beyond what would be considered normal in a case like this.
"However, from the very beginning it has been clear that the Madeleine case is not a normal police case.
"It's not my job to have to explain why and how certain politicians have intervened in this case, but I'm afraid these interventions have been prejudicial not only to my client, but also for determining the truth.
"My client has not received any personal support from the British authorities, only that which has come through the McCann couple.
"I don't want to accuse anyone, but there are people very close to the McCanns who are not helping them at all.
"The intention of my client is to bring to light the truth of this sad story, without any concern for who might be implicated."
Four of the Tapas Nine, the name given to Gerry and Kate McCann and the seven friends they were dining with on the night Madeleine disappeared from the holiday complex in the Algarve, have reportedly brought in their own lawyers as they prepared to be named as official suspects.
Missing: And, at the centre of it all, four-year-old Madeleine McCann, who has been missing for six months
A Sunday newspaper named the four as Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Matthew Oldfield and Dr David Payne.
It claimed they had been warned they would join the McCanns and Robert Murat as "arguidos" after the discovery by Portuguese investigators of inconsistencies in key statements made immediately after Madeleine vanished.
Dr Payne, a 41-year-old cardiovascular researcher from Leicester, was the last person outside the McCann family to see Madeleine at the Ocean Club resort on May 3.
Gerry asked him to check on his wife and children while he having a tennis lesson at about 6.30pm.
Attention has also focused on Jane Tanner's claim she saw a man carrying a girl from the McCanns' ground floor apartment at about 9.15pm - when another witness says he was outside the flat at the same time but did not see her or the mystery man.
Mr Oldfield, 37, from south London, has said he entered the McCanns' apartment to check on the children about 30 minutes before Madeleine was reported missing by her mum.
He told police that although he had seen the McCanns' two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, their sister's bed was out of his sight-line.
Dr O'Brien, 36, from Exeter, was away from the group for up to 45 minutes between 9.30pm until 10.15pm while he tended to his own child who was sick in his apartment.
He told police he had changed her bedlinen, but staff at the Ocean Club were said to have denied any change of sheets was requested.
The McCanns and their friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance - and insist she was kidnapped.
They are barred by strict Portuguese secrecy laws from speaking about the events of May 3 but recently issued a statement denying they had a "pact of silence" or that they were covering up a secret.
Portuguese police are preparing to send a three-man team led by chief investigator Paulo Rebelo to the UK to reinterview the Tapas Nine.
British detectives will ask questions put to them by their Portuguese counterparts.