Kate McCann asks to give evidence in court during libel trial

Kate McCann has said she wants to defend herself in open court. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Kate McCann has said she wants to defend herself in open court over claims made by the Portuguese police officer who led the hunt for her daughter Madeleine. If her application is granted it will be the first time she has appeared in a court to speak about the disappearance.

Mrs McCann’s legal team requested she be allowed to testify in the libel action the family are taking against the ex-detective who was initially in charge of the hunt for the missing three year old.

Judge Maria Emilia Melo e Castro, who is hearing the case, referred to Kate McCann by her maiden name as she announced the application to the court, "On October 2 Kate Healy made an application to make a statement to this court,” the judge said.

"The court will decide on this application once evidence has been heard by both sides as only then will it be it able to judge on the need for and the pertinence of this application."

The McCanns are suing Goncalo Amaral, over his book 'The Truth of the Lie' in which he accused them of faking their daughter's abduction to cover up her death in their Algarve holiday apartment.

Madeleine McCann's parents Gerry and Kate McCann have both asked the court to speak. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

At the hearing in Portugal today colleagues of Mr Amaral spoke out in his defence insisting publication of the book in no way affected the search for Madeleine. The book was published in 2008 just three days after the McCanns had their status as 'arguidos' or suspects over Madeleiene's disappearance officially lifted.

Former family liaison officer Ricardo Paiva told the court: "What is in the book is based on our investigation and contains the professional and personal opinions of Goncalo Amaral as a police officer."Everything that is there can be found in the case files."

Contradicting earlier claims by the McCanns' family and friends that Mr Amaral's book had hindered their search for their daughter by turning the Portuguese public against them, he added: "The flow of information continued to come in regularly.

"Neither this book or any other book affected the flow of information."

The case is expected to run until late November.