Robert Murat is a British man who was accused early on of being an “arguido” or suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a child who vanished while her doctor parents were out to dinner at a Portugal resort.
However, Murat denies having anything to do with the child’s disappearance, and he’s won a libel judgment against news outlets that falsely called him a pedophile or implied he had something to do with it. In fact, he has no criminal convictions, and the news outlets eventually acknowledged that Murat had no involvement in 3-year-old McCann’s disappearance and admitted he is not a pedophile. He’s since been cleared by authorities as a suspect.
Murat will be featured in the new Netflix documentary over eight episodes called The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It streams on March 15, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Murat Received Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars From UK Newspapers
The British media went into a frenzy over the Madeleine McCann case. One person the courts say was wronged: Robert Murat. At the end of it all, he received “more than £600,000 in damages from 11 UK newspapers” after a court hearing lasting just minutes, according to Algarve Daily News.
The newspaper reported that debunked allegations against Murat and his friends included those saying falsely that they were part of a pedophile ring and lied to the police and those falsely stating that police found DNA evidence linked to the Madeleine case in Murat’s home. None of that was true, according to the newspaper.
“The newspapers in this case brought about the total and utter destruction of mine and my family’s life and caused immense distress,” Murat said outside court, according to The Press Gazette.
2. Murat Lived in Algarve When McCann Disappeared & Volunteered to Help Translate
According to Algarve Daily News, when Madeleine McCann vanished, Robert Murat lived in Algarve. Madeleine McCann disappeared in 2007 from the Praia da Luz report in Algarve, Portugal. Part of the suspicions that fell on him came because he “lived with his mother 100 yards from the flat where” Madeleine vanished, according to UK Telegraph, which said that, at the time, he was a 33-year-old British expatriate.
He has worked as an IT consultant, the Press Gazette reports. The newspaper added that, when Madeleine disappeared, Murat “became a volunteer translator for the Portuguese police and did everything he could to assist the investigation.”
The Guardian also reported that Murat “offered to translate witness statements during the police search for Madeleine,” which is how he became on anyone’s radar screen in the first place. The Week reported that Murat’s mother, named Jenny, “always maintained she had been with him at home on the night of her disappearance.”
Murat, who is blind in one eye and from Norfolk, is married. His wife’s name is Michaela Walczuch.
3. Scotland Yard Reinterviewed Murat as a Witness
Scotland Yard reopened the Madeleine McCann case in 2011, and, as part of that new investigation, they interviewed Robert Murat, who met with both British and Portuguese police, The Guardian reported. However, he was treated as a witness, not a suspect, the site added.
The reopened case, requested by David Cameron, is called Operation Grange. “My conscience is clear and I have no problem speaking to police again,” Murat said to the Guardian, which noted that he had been the first person declared as a suspect early on in the case.
He was one of multiple people interviewed in the newly opened investigation, the site added. Portuguese prosecutors have said they no longer consider Robert Murat a suspect in the case.
4. Murat Described Feeling Like He Was Chased by a ‘Pack of Hounds’
Being at the other end of a media juggernaut doesn’t feel good. Murat spoke about the experience to a group of students at Cambridge University. In that talk, he described how he “felt like a fox being pursued by a pack of hounds … [caught] between a Kafka novel and the Will Smith movie Enemy of the State,” The Guardian reported.
He also lamented the “very real harm tabloid journalism has done to me and those close to me,” Guardian reported.
“I was cleared of everything right back in 2008 but the fact is that in some people’s minds there’s still going to be a link. Finding out the truth of what happened will conclusively take me out of that, so it’s really important that something does happen and they do find out what happened,” Murat said in 2014, per the Telegraph.
5. Murat’s Father Is Portuguese & He Is Featured in the Netflix Documentary
According to the Irish Times, Murat’s father is Portuguese, and he has also worked as a property consultant.
The Netflix documentary promises to “examine every suspect” and calls Madeleine McCann the most high-profile missing girl in the world.
Murat said in a trailer for the Netflix show that he felt like he was being set up. He told 5 News in the above video that he has tried to move on since being cleared in the case, and he hopes it’s finally resolved. More than 20 new suspects were uncovered by British police in recent years, the television station reported, which added that Madeleine’s parents were also named as suspects but later “completely cleared.”