Richard Branson Donates Money to Help Fund McCanns' Defense

Virgin Air chief aids couple now under suspicion in daughter's disappearance.

ByABC News via logo
February 12, 2009, 7:07 AM

Sept. 16, 2007 — -- Despite the cloud of suspicion surrounding them after Portuguese authorities named them as suspects in the disappearance of their child, Kate and Gerry McCann continued their campaign to find their missing 4-year-old daughter, Madeleine, as they prayed in church Sunday morning.

During the weekend, Gerry McCann's brother, John McCann, announced the launch of a new ad campaign in Portugal, Spain and other parts of Europe.

Authorities' recent suggestion that the McCanns may have killed Madeleine accidentally, has left the British couple in a difficult situation.

In fact, the McCanns, whose daughter went missing on May 4 while on a family vacation in Portugal, now may be forced to sell their home in order to pay for legal fees.

But the parents may get help from entrepreneur Richard Branson, who offered $200,000 for their defense fund.

The McCanns have continued to maintain their innocence. And John McCann angrily denied the rumor that Madeleine had been drugged by her mother.

"Where is this information from," he questioned. "It doesn't make sense. I have no record of any official saying, 'Yes, we have this data from forensics.'"

Some Portuguese papers said Kate McCann's cool and composed demeanor throughout the investigation was a sign of her guilt.

But, her childhood friends have come to her defense.

Linda McQueen said she has no doubt her friend Kate McCann and her husband are innocent.

"They are the most loving, caring family-oriented couple that you could ever meet," she said.

But, others watching the case may not be convinced as easily. The couple, which once had the world's sympathy when the story first unfolded, now has seen public opinion turned against them.

Only 20 percent of respondents in a recent British poll said they believed the McCanns are completely innocent, while 48 percent think the parents could have been responsible for Maddy's death.