October 30, 2007 / 4:27 PM / 12 years ago

McCanns defend using public fund to pay mortgage

LONDON (Reuters) - The parents of missing Madeleine McCann repaid two instalments of their mortgage with money from the fund set up to help find her, their spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

Kate McCann, the mother of missing girl Madeleine McCann, leaves the Catholic Church of Sacred Heart in Rothley September 23, 2007. Madeleine's parents repaid two instalments of their mortgage with money from the fund set up to help find her, their spokesman confirmed on Tuesday. REUTERS/Darren Staples

But Kate and Gerry McCann stopped taking money from the one million pound “Find Madeleine” fund after they were made official suspects, Clarence Mitchell said.

He was speaking after media reports on Tuesday that the couple made two 2,000-pound repayments on their 460,000-pound detached house in Rothley, Leicestershire with fund money.

He confirmed the couple made two repayments in July and August, but defended their motives.

The primary objective of the fund, a not-for-profit company, was to help efforts to find Madeleine, but it can also provide financial support for her parents to cope with the stress, he said.

The couple have not worked since the young girl disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May, just before her fourth birthday.

Mitchell said once they were made official suspects in the case, they stopped using the fund for mortgage repayments.

It was a mutual decision with the fund, after they conceded they would not be entitled to the money, he said.

Mitchell confirmed that because of their financial predicament, Gerry McCann, 39, will return to work as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester on Thursday.

It remains unclear what his wife, also 39, will do after reports said she was unlikely return to work as a locum GP.

“Gerry is about to go back to work quite soon and his financial position will improve on a personal level and hopefully they won’t need to ask the fund for any further assistance in future,” Mitchell told Sky News.

“But I do hope that people who have contributed to it do understand that their monies are being channelled towards finding Madeleine in every form and part of that is to help the family cope in this time of stress.

“How would you feel, losing your child and then potentially losing your house on top of that?”

The six-month anniversary since Madeleine went missing falls on Saturday and Mitchell said the couple would be attending a church service in their home town.

“It will be a quiet day, quite low key with a number of religious services,” he said. “As Gerry often says to me: it is just another day without Madeleine.”

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