An advertisement for travel deals in Portugal featured a photo of the missing little girl Madeleine McCann. The website, VoucherDigg.co.uk, used a photograph of Madeleine taken before she disappeared five years ago, when she was 4 years old, a family spokesman told Sky News.
The ad read, "£20 off: Great discount on holiday bookings." Clarence Mitchell, the McCann family's spokesman, told Sky News, "The misuse of Madeleine's picture in this way is utterly appalling and frankly unforgivable. Kate and Gerry [Madeleine's parents] were horrified when they found out about it. It is offensive in the extreme. Whether it's a mistake or hacking it's an utter disgrace."
VoucherDigg was promoting travel deals for another website, lowcostholidays.com. Lawrence Hunt, chief operating officer of lowcostholidays.com, called the ad "vile" and said his site had broken all links to VoucherDigg. He also said his company had contacted its lawyers.
"We have no contract with VoucherDigg to advertise our holidays, and we are doing all that we can to contact the website and get the picture removed. We apologize for any distress this may have caused, which is completely beyond our control and are disgusted by the use of this image," Hunt said in a statement.
As of now, VoucherDigg.co.uk's website loads no more than a blank white page.
Madeleine McCann disappeared while her family was on vacation in Algarve, Portugal, on May 3, 2007. She would have turned 9 years old this week. An age-enhanced image of what Madeleine would look like today was released on the five-year anniversary of her disappearance.