Madeleine's father says sedation claim "outrageous"

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MADRID, Oct 24 (Reuters) Gerry McCann, the father of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, has angrily rejected Portuguese media claims that he and his wife Kate had drugged their children.

''There's absolutely no suggestion that Madeleine or the children were druggedand it's outrageous,'' Gerry McCann told Spanish television channel Antena 3.

In late August the couple said they had instructed their lawyers to begin legal action against Portuguese newspaper Tal&Qual after it reported that police believed the couple killed Madeleine.

In their first television interview since Portuguese police named the couple as formal suspects in the case on Sept. 7, Kate McCann's voice cracked as she described how one of the couple's twins, Amelie, was talking about her sister coming home.

''It wasn't to me actually, it was to my friend; she just said Madeleine's coming home to my lovely house and I'm going to share my toys with her''.

In the interview, to be screened late today, the couple also say they are launching a new 24-hour hotline manned by private detectives to unearth fresh clues in their search across Portugal, Morocco and Spain, according to the Web site of Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Madeleine vanished from her bedroom in an Algarve resort on May 3, a few days before her fourth birthday. The parents say they are innocent and have launched a high-profile campaign to find their daughter, who they think was abducted.

Reuters AK VP0235

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