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McCanns meet holiday dining friends

The parents of Madeleine McCann have met the seven friends they dined with on the day their daughter disappeared, their spokesman said.
Held at a Leicestershire hotel at the end of last month, it was the first face-to-face meeting of the group, dubbed the Tapas nine, since the McCanns' return to Britain.

Advisers for the Rothley couple were present, said Clarence Mitchell, but the former Foreign Office spokesman denied the private meeting was held for the friends to compare their accounts of May 3, the day the four-year-old disappeared.

He said: "It was uneventful as far as we are concerned and it's not significant.

"It is the first time the nine have sat down face to face. It was really just a get-together to discuss where they are at.

"Clearly, some might face further questioning at some stage. It was not to change stories or compare notes. It was a get-together of friends who find themselves at the centre of a story."

The McCanns were dining with the seven friends at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment.

The party included the McCanns, Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

Mr Mitchell added: "The meeting was as much a show of support for Gerry and Kate. This was in no way to get their stories straight.

"This is the age of email and phone. They could have done that a long time ago."

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