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Learning English - Words in the News
10 September, 2007 - Published 12:17 GMT
The McCanns still hope to find their missing daughter
Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal more than four months ago

The parents of a missing British girl, Madeleine McCann, are back in Britain more than four months after their daughter disappeared in Portugal. Tom Esslemont looks back on the events that have taken place since she went missing:

Listen to the story

Madeleine McCann disappeared more than four months ago from an apartment in the small Portuguese resort of Praia de Luz. Kate and Gerry McCann say they returned from eating in a restaurant a short distance away, to find their daughter missing - she's not yet been found.

The McCanns have stayed in Portugal since Madeleine's disappearance, where they have at times been the focus of close media scrutiny. They seemed to use that interest to their advantage, launching an international campaign to keep the story in the public eye. Pictures of Madeleine were posted on a special website, in airports and police stations around the world.

The McCann's have found strength in their own religious faith in the past months, even though admitting times of doubt. Travelling to the Vatican weeks after Madeleine's disappearance, they were given a brief audience with the Pope.

In this and all public appearances, the McCanns have always seemed calm, even after the dramatic turn of events of recent days which saw them being named as official suspects by Portuguese police. In interviews with British newspapers, the McCanns have accused the police of trying to frame them in the case. Officers say Portuguese law prevents them from responding to that accusation.

The McCanns have said they wanted to return to Britain for the sake of their twins. But on Saturday a family friend said, they were determined that the focus of the investigation does not shift away from trying to find Madeleine.

Tom Esslemont, BBC

Listen to the words

at times
sometimes, occasionally

the focus of close media scrutiny
in the centre of a careful and detailed examination of their actions and words by journalists

to their advantage
if something is to your advantage, it improves your situation

starting, beginning

to keep the story in the public eye
to make sure that as many people as possible are always aware of the fact that Madeleine has disappeared

given a brief audience with
invited to see for a short time

dramatic turn of events
significant change in the situation

to frame them
to make them seem guilty of the crime when they are not, by producing facts or information which are not true

for the sake of
to help, to make the situation easier for

shift away
move away

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