McCanns hit out at ghoulish Madeleine tours

By Caroline Gammell in Praia da Luz
Last Updated: 5:29PM BST 30/04/2008

Kate and Gerry McCann are deeply hurt by the “disgraceful” way in which tourists are making tours to visit the spot where their daughter Madeleine disappeared, a friend has said.

the McCanns in Brussels
Locals in Praia da Luz are fed up with the grisly fascination

Scores of people favouring “ghoul tourism” are turning up in Praia da Luz each week on unofficial tours to visit all the places which have become so well known since the little girl vanished almost a year ago.

They go to the Ocean Club apartment where the little girl was last seen and pose for photographs before visiting the church where Mr and Mrs McCann prayed for her safe return.

They even stop outside the house of Robert Murat, 34, who was made a suspect 12 days after Madeleine went missing.

A friend of Mr and Mrs McCann said: “If they are doing that it’s disgraceful, I think people should have better things to do with their time – what is the point?

“It is offensive and hurtful and it is disrespectful to Madeleine.”

Pamela Fenn, 81, who lives above apartment 5a where the McCanns stayed, said: “It’s sick, you get loads of them. There was a group of about 20 here on Saturday. You can’t believe it. Can you imagine wanting to come and do that?

“They stand outside the apartment talking and then in front of the window with their children and have photographs taken.

“It happens all the time but it is worst at the weekend, particularly Saturday.”

Deborah Crawford, who works at The Bull pub, said locals were fed up with the grisly fascination“It happens all the time but it is worst at the weekend, particularly Saturday: “Tourists are always asking about the case.

“Every day someone will ask for directions to the McCanns’ apartment so they can go up for a nosey. It’s a bit sick.

“They’ve been running coach tours just to see the place where it all happened – a busload of older people came down from northern Portugal. It’s unbelievable.”

Staff at the Ocean Club said people take photographs of the tapas restaurant where Mr and Mrs McCann dined with friends on the night Madeleine went missing.

One employee said: “After looking at the apartment they go to the main road where there is a clear view over the pool.

“The bus comes and parks outside the church and lots of them get off and they come up here in a big group.

“You always get the odd one or two people who want to know where Madeleine was taken, but these are big groups, 20, 30, 40 people.

“I would love to find out who is organising it so we could ask them to stop.”

As media attention intensifies as the anniversary approaches, Mr Murat’s lawyer Francisco Pagarete has advised him to leave Praia da Luz for a few days.

Mr and Mrs McCann will launch a media offensive today (thurs) with interviews in London with most of the major television stations.

On Saturday, Mr McCann’s brother John, sister Trish Cameron and her husband Sandy are flying to Portugal to attend a mass at the church.

Anglican vicar Father Haynes Hubbard – who became close to the McCanns – and Catholic priest Father Jose Manuel Pacheco will take turns to lead the service.

Photographs of Madeleine will be on display and Mrs McCann is expected to send a letter to be read during the vigil.

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