I'm being persecuted because of my looks, says Kate McCann
'Persecuted': Kate claims her looks have led to stinging attacks
Kate McCann believes she is being persecuted because of her appearance, her mother revealed today.
In an extraordinary interview, Susan Healy described how her distraught daughter claimed if she was heavier - and had bigger breasts - people would be more sympathetic.
"Kate said last night 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic," Madeleine's grandmother said.
"I think it's terrible that she's having to think like that."
In a candid interview with their local newspaper, The Liverpool Post, Mrs Healy and her husband Brian tackled head on:
• Claims Gerry was not Madeleine's father
• That Gerry and Kate had sedated their three children on the night that Madeleine vanished
• Allegations that the McCanns had killed their daughter and were staging an elaborate cover up
They also revealed family and friends are holding crisis talks today to decide what to do next in the increasingly desperate hunt for Madeleine
The pair have said very little since the little girl's disappearance from the Mark Warner holiday village in Praia de Luz, Portugal, on May 3.
But today they laid bare their anguish at their grand-daughter's absence - and their daughter and son-in-law's prolonged suffering.
- "Kate is a very sensitive, caring person and one of the most maternal people I know. She puts me to shame," Mrs Healy said.
"Her life revolves around her children but now she's got to the point where she feels she is being persecuted, in her mind, if her twins, Sean and Amelie, cry in public - it's absolutely crazy.
"She does feel persecuted, not by the general public who have been extremely supportive, but by some sections of the media, and I just feel it's important I let people know she is not this person who is in control all the time.
She added: "All this stuff is going on inside my poor daughter who's not done anything wrong.
"Anyone would crack eventually. It's like having a perfect family and seeing it torn to shreds.
"She and Gerry went to a restaurant which was just metres away from their apartment and part of the holiday complex - it was a terrible mistake but they did it out of naivety."
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Missing for 166 days: Madeleine McCann
Over the last few weeks, Kate, a part-time GP, has looked increasingly frail and gaunt.
Today her mother confirmed her health was worrying for the family and her close-knit circle of friends.
"Kate has always had that kind of build and has never carried any weight. But she does look very traumatised," she said.
"She and Gerry do have counselling - Kate saw a counsellor at the end of last week. It's the same person they saw in Portugal and I know it does help them," she said.
"But I think they continually go back to the feeling that they can't afford to go to pieces because they have to keep trying to get their daughter back that overrides everything else they are feeling."
It is now 166 days since Madeleine vanished without trace during which time Gerry and Kate McCann, both 39, have been the subject of increasingly lurid rumours.
Portuguese papers have claimed that the pair murdered their daughter and disposed of her body, that Gerry is not actually the missing four-year-old's father and that their three children were drugged on the night of May 3.
The Healys, who live in Allerton, Liverpool, today hit back at these claims, branding them "scurrilous rubbish."
"We just don't know where this sort of thing comes from," Mrs Healy said.
"It would be simple for Kate and Gerry to go to the clinic where they had the IVF and prove this is a lie but I think they feel it would be demeaning, while it would also put the clinic under enormous media pressure.
"Then there's the claim 'Kate and Gerry drugged Madeleine and their twins, Sean and Amelie - with sedatives.'
"They don't like taking tablets themselves and the only thing they have ever given their children, if they were teething or had a temperature, is Calpol. They didn't give them anything that night."
"Last week there was 'Seven children were sleeping in Kate and Gerry's apartment on the night Madeleine went missing.'
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Anguished: Kate's parents Brian and Susan with Madeleine yellow ribbons
"Again, it's nonsense and I don't know where this has come from - or why it's only now it's been suggested."
She added: "I don't go onto the internet, but I know some people will get pleasure from picking up on, and discussing, the negative side of things - however, it's hard enough for us to read that people are convinced Madeleine is dead.
"Strangers are still coming up to us and saying 'We don't believe a word of what we're reading, you know' - that happens again and again and it's important for us to hear that.
"I also know that if you throw enough muck at people, some of it can stick. But you've got to credit people with having the intelligence to work out that there has been a lot of scurrilous rubbish written."
"There are obviously different types of people in the world, but I think the good outweigh the bad."
Susan and Brian Healy still cling to the hope that their four-year-old granddaughter will be found alive but say they dread their worst nightmares coming true.
In recent days, reports out of Portugal suggest police will begin to trawl a reservoir 15 miles from Praia de Luz.
Mrs Healy said: "It is scary and if it really is going on, I'll be holding my breath.
"In my heart of hearts I still feel we will get Madeleine back, although I naturally get scared when I hear about the police carrying out searches."
But the couple are hoping that the appointment of Paulo Rebelo, Portugal's second most senior police officer, to lead the investigation in place of the much-criticised Goncalo Amaral, will give fresh impetus to the hunt.
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Haggard: Kate McCann this week
Mr Healy added: "I've heard nothing yet to convince me that Madeleine isn't alive and I am clinging onto the hope that we will get her back."
Both have no idea how Kate and Gerry will cope if their worst nightmares become true.
"It must be unbearable for her to think about the possibility of never seeing Madeleine again, or that it's going to be another six months before she sees her again," Mrs Healy said, who revealed she had had difficulty sleeping since the little girl vanished.
"We've no idea when Kate and Gerry may have their suspect status lifted, but we hope it will be soon.
"Until it is, they are not allowed to defend themselves in public - and that is dreadful.
"They need to be exonerated as soon as possible and there are people who will then need to apologise to them - but whether that happens in the real world, I don't know."
Mr Healy added: "Anger keeps me going, so I'm doing pretty well because there has been a lot to be angry about."
But despite all the agony and anguish, Mrs Healy said: "We need people to realise that nothing has changed since day one. Madeleine is still missing and the police haven't found anything to indicate she isn't alive, so we have got to go on looking.
"Kate and Gerry are as innocent as you or I, or anyone reading this. The perpetrator or perpetrators are still out there. We still pray that someone will open a door and say 'Here she is - it's all been a terrible mistake'.
The Healys are joining family and friends to hold crisis talks about the Madeleine campaingn today in a bid to keep her in the public eye.
They say they are realistic enough to accept that some people are not only convinced that their granddaughter is dead, but that Madeleine's own parents were responsible.
But Mr Healy added: "When we have been with Kate and Gerry in Leicestershire, I have opened the boxes of mail. "There would be hundreds and hundreds of items and while there would be the occasional crank letter, 99.5% of them would be from well-wishers."
I'm being persecuted because of my looks, says Kate McCann | the Daily Mail