On May 13 2007, ten days after Madeleine McCann disappeared from an apartment in Praia da Luz, the News of the World announced the "biggest ever newspaper reward" for information leading to Madeleine's safe return.
At the same time, the paper promised that if the reward remained unpaid for any reason, the portion made up of readers' donations [The other portion being made up of 'pledges'] would be shared equally by children's charities Barnado's, Childline and the NSPCC.
Early in December 2013, Gerry McCann was contacted by email at the University of Hospital of Leicester, where he is a Consultant Cardiologist.
He was asked what had happened to the Reward Fund. His reply, within the hour, was courteous and clear:
'That is something you will need to take up with News International.
'My understanding is that the reward was made up of pledges.
News International, of course, no longer existed. On June 26th 2013, it had re-branded itself as News UK. But fourteen months earlier, in September 2011, it was still News International.
Ten weeks after the company had shut down the News of the World, a Press Officer was asked by email:
1. Is (the Reward Fund) still active?
2. How much was raised and what has happened to the funds since?
3. Given the demise of the newspaper, who is now responsible for the administration of this account?
4. What are the current plans for the Fund?
The reply, six days later, was also courteous and clear:
'Thank you for your enquiry.
'I can confirm that the funds raised by the appeal were donated in April this year (2011) to the official Madeleine Fund and the fund created by News of the World is no longer active.'
In April 2011, the donated portion of the reward money was indeed paid out by News International - but not to the children's charities, as they had promised. Instead, and with no announcement from either the News of the World or the McCanns, it was paid into Madeleine's 'Fund'.