From Empathy to Suspicion: Britain Reacts to New Twist in Maddie Case

Gerry McCann's sister, Phylomena, had mixed feelings about the media's involvement in the case. Some journalists, she told BBC Radio, "overstepped their mark." Yet, she said, "if it hadn't been for the help of the media, Madeleine's case might have disappeared."

But the new twist in the investigation has inevitably damaged the McCanns' popularity.

Some donors to the Madeleine Fund were appalled to learn that the couple was looking into ways to legally dip into the fund to cover the fees of their stellar legal team that includes attorney Michael Caplan, who represented ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and renowned criminal attorney Angus McBride. But the McCanns backtracked Wednesday, announcing instead that they would create a separate fund for their defense.

Meanwhile, British tabloids who helped raise Madeleine's profile could be the ones to tarnish the McCanns' reputation. A look at the headlines of one particular newspaper, which led on Saturday with the headline "Death on Mum's Bible," on Sunday with "Forensic Evidence a Bluff" and then on Monday with the accusative "Madeleine: We can prove parents did it," leaves no doubt that the McCanns' close relationship with the press is past turning sour.

The Portuguese prosecution is now reviewing the evidence in Madeleine's case, and themselves may be backtracking. Reports that investigators have tied blood in a rental car the McCanns used to Madeleine were downplayed by Portugal's national police chief who said Monday that the forensic tests on a car were not conclusive.

The coming days should tell whether the suspicion surrounding her parents has irreparably hampered the feverish public determination to find missing Madeleine.

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