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Madeleine McCann’s parents are preparing for a long legal fight and have hired a top Portuguese legal team, reports The Press Association.

Madeleine McCann’s parents are preparing for a long legal fight and have hired a top Portuguese legal team, reports The Press Association.

Gerry and Kate McCann have told friends that they are prepared for a long battle to clear their names after being declared “arguidos”, or official suspects, in the case.

The couple have hired a top Portuguese legal team including the president of the country’s bar association to prepare their defence and have expressed hopes they could be cleared “long before” Christmas.

But lawyers have played down suggestions of an early end to their ordeal and the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said that they accepted they could still be suspects next year.

“Our understanding is that this is a marathon rather than a sprint, we are in this for the long term,” he said.

“I understand that they can remain arguidos for eight months and I understand the police can have an option to extend it. In theory, they could technically be arguidos right up until the first anniversary of Madeleine going missing. We are prepared for that if necessary. We hope not. We are pushing to have this arguido status lifted immediately.”

He added that there were no specific judicial deadlines on the horizon to force the pace of progress although the McCanns’ legal team could make representations in an attempt to speed the process up. “There is great uncertainty as to where they go from here,” he said.

Figures have revealed that Scotland’s legal aid bill increased to more than £150m last year. This is an increase on 2% from the previous year and brought spending up to the second highest ever level, reports BBC News.

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