LONDON – A man named by police as a suspect in the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann won $1.2 million in libel damages Thursday from nearly a dozen British newspapers, his lawyer said.
Robert Murat's lawyer, Louis Charalambous, said the papers had agreed to pay Murat and to issue an apology. The settlement was formalized with a joint statement at the High Court in London on Thursday.
Murat sued the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and other daily and Sunday newspapers over stories — often lurid and based on anonymous sources — claiming he was involved in Madeleine's disappearance.
The eleven newspapers had no immediate comment on the libel award.
Murat, 34, is a British man who lives near the southern Portuguese resort where 3-year-old Madeleine disappeared in May 2007. Last year Portuguese police named Murat, along with Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann, as "arguidos," or formal suspects.
Despite a global campaign by the girl's parents, no trace of her has been found, and no one has been charged in the case.
Outside court on Thursday, Murat blasted the newspapers.
"(They) brought about the total and utter destruction of mine and my family's life and caused immense distress," he said.
In March, the McCanns won front-page apologies and a large libel payout from several newspapers that had made claims about their role in their daughter's disappearance. The McCanns, like Murat, strenuously deny involvement in the disappearance.
Portugal's attorney general said Wednesday he would announce next week whether he plans to bring charges in the case.