The parents of missing British 4-year-old Madeleine McCann are the victims of a “hurtful and ludicrous” smear campaign being conducted by Portuguese police, a friend of the family told the Times of London on Thursday.

Rachael Oldfield, who was dining with Gerry and Kate McCann when Madeleine disappeared, said she was responding to reports in Portuguese newspapers claiming that police believed Madeleine had been killed and her family and friends had information about her death, the newspaper reported.

The Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias claimed that emails and phone conversations between the friends had led police to advance the theory that the little girl had died in the couple’s apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, rather than being kidnapped.

Oldfield, 36, told the Times that she thought the Portuguese police were purposely leaking this new theory.

“I think there are some leaks coming from the police because a lot of what I have read is completely untrue,” she told the Times. “It is very hurtful and it is all rather ludicrous. But it is difficult to defend ourselves because the investigation and everything in it is confidential.”

The McCanns are scheduled to be questioned again, separately, at police headquarters in Portimão as part of a review of the investigation being conducted by British police. A sample of what was thought to be blood, taken from the couple’s vacation apartment in the Algarve, was supposed to arrive in Britain for analysis Wednesday.

Rachael Oldfield’s comments follow a claim by the husband of a woman serving 16 years in jail in another missing child case in the Algarve that Kate McCann was being set up by Portuguese police to take the blame for Madeleine’s death.

Click here to read the complete story in the Times of London.