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School head was on the alert over eloped pair

28 September 2012


CCTV footage of Megan with Jerry Forrest on a Dover-Calais ferry, in handout photos from Sussex Police

CCTV footage of Megan with Jerry Forrest on a Dover-Calais ferry, in handout photos from Sussex Police

THE relationship between a 30-year-old maths teacher and a 15-year-old student at Bishop Bell C of E School, in Eastbourne, had been reported and was under observation before they disappeared last weekend, the executive head teacher, Terry Boatwright, has confirmed.

Sussex Police reported today that the teacher, Jeremy Forrest, and the GCSE student, Megan Stammers, had been found safe and well in France, after a Europe-wide police search. The pair, who took a ferry from Dover to France on Friday, had failed to use their return tickets.

A Police statement issued at lunchtime said: "Missing Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest have been located safe and well in France. They were found today (Friday 28 September) at 12.15 p.m. UK time. Mr Forrest has been arrested on suspicion of child abduction and Megan has been taken into protection. The information which led to them being located came as a direct result of media coverage in France. At this stage we are not confirming the specific location where they were found. Their families have been informed and arrangements will now be made for Megan and Jeremy's safe return."

Subsequent media reports said that the couple were found in Bordeaux, in south-west France, and that Mr Forrest had been taken into police custody. Several sightings were reported after Megan's stepfather, Martin Stammers, made an emotional appeal on the BBC programme Crimewatch, yesterday evening. Today, Mr Stammers wrote on Twitter:"Thank you everyone for everything, massive relief and thrilled to bits".

In a statement on Monday, Mr Boatwright - widely praised for transforming standards at Bishop Bell, a voluntary aided comprehensive, after taking over 16 years ago - said that the whole school community had been shocked by the events.

"The thoughts and prayers of us all are with Megan and her family. We would urge her to get in touch with her family, and echo the police's call for anyone with information to contact them."

Mr Boatwright rejected claims that the school's child-safeguarding procedures were ineffective, after it emerged that, in 2009, another member of staff, Robert Healy, a PE teacher, had been sent to prison for seven years after starting a sexual relationship with two teenage girls.

The school again came under the spotlight when a former chairman of governors, Canon Gordon Rideout, a retired priest, was charged with 38 offences of child abuse over an 11-year period. Canon Rideout was suspended in 2010, but remained a governor for a further year.

Mr Boatwright said that Bishop Bell School had a "robust" child-protection policy, which was rated excellent by OFSTED.


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