Madeleine and her family remain top of the news

By MIKE ALMOND [email protected]

Love them or hate them, Gerry and Kate McCann and their relentless search for the truth behind the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine remains top, or near the top, of news agendas across the globe.

The litigious couple, who have now shown themselves to be quick to seek legal retribution from any organisation that offers views contrary to their own, were positively anonymous during 2009, with comparatively few media appearances.

However, when they did pop their heads above the parapet, the media circus swung into action on every occasion.

Just how newsworthy the family, and in particular Madeleine, remains is demonstrated by a report from search engine Ask Jeeves on the decade’s most searched person.

Troubled pop star Britney Spears received more online hits than world leaders and royalty, and topped the poll above celebrities such as Madonna and Brad Pitt.

Osama bin Laden took second place, followed by David Beckham, Princess Diana, Tony Blair, Madonna, Simon Cowell, Jade Goody – and Madeleine McCann, who was more searched than Brad Pitt.

In our own online poll, run every week during the year at, questions relating to Madeleine and her parents elicited a strong response from readers.

Of the ten questions which produced the biggest feedback, the family featured in FIVE of them.

Completing the top ten were two questions relating to safety and crime in the Algarve, a subject that is sure to be top of everyone’s agenda in 2010, one on whether the region is still seen as a sound investment for a holiday home, another on whether a second airport is needed and finally whether the Albufeira tragedy has put people off visiting the beach.

Many residents of the Algarve may be tired, bored, fed-up with all the coverage of the McCanns. Indeed, regular correspondence confirms this.

But what they forget is a simple, haunting fact – a little girl is still missing and no-one knows what happened to her.

Facebook ban

A group claiming to be behind Madeleine McCann’s kidnapping was removed last month from the social networking website Facebook following thousands of complaints.

The group, named “If 2,000,000 people join this group, I will give back Maddie McCann,” was slammed by outraged users, who campaigned for it to be banned.

The group’s page, which attracted many members, included hundreds of distasteful jokes about Madeleine’s disappearance as well as spoof images.

No comment has been made by Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann about this issue.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]