French police 'not searching' for runaway Megan Stammers

Age of consent in France is 15, so schoolgirl's teacher is not a 'criminal suspect'

LAST UPDATED AT 10:18 ON Thu 27 Sep 2012

FIFTEEN-year-old schoolgirl Megan Stammers and her 30-year-old maths teacher, Jeremy Forrest, are not being hunted by French police despite eloping to the continent together because Forrest is not considered to be a "criminal suspect".

The age of consent in France is 15, so any relationship between the two is not illegal in that country. Stammers is also old enough to travel with Forrest and a French prosecutor told the Daily Mail that the 15-year-old schoolgirl was only being treated as a "missing person".

"The revelation will fuel fears too little is being done to find the pair, who left Britain last Thursday night after Sussex Police began investigating their relationship," says the paper.

"While the schoolgirl's disappearance has been making headlines across Britain, the coverage on the continent has been much more muted, hindering efforts to track the pair."

The paper claims that some French media have refused to publish pictures of the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Eastbourne because of concerns over privacy legislation. The couple have also been described as 'lovers' in some reports.

As The Week reported yesterday, concerns were reportedly raised about the relationship between Stammers and Forrest several months ago.

French prosecutor Jean-Philippe Joubert said a European Arrest Warrant has been issued for the pair but added: "There are no dedicated detectives or specific searches going on right now." However, Joubert said the pair will be arrested if they are recognised and identified.

Sussex Police have said they are working with the French authorities and Interpol to try and locate the pair, but BBC News has reported that Interpol is unable to confirm that it is working on the case. Forrest does not appear on the Interpol website.

Despite indifference in Europe, interest in the runaway teenager remains high on this side of the Channel. Sky News reports that the case will feature on the BBC's Crimewatch programme tonight. Pop group The Saturdays have also joined the hunt, with members tweeting Stammers begging her to get in touch with her family. · 

Disqus - noscript

Don't think the French will ever concur with our odd sexual legislation. We allow arranged marriages of 9 year old children for some of our national occupants while waving the flag of moral authoritarianism at this pair. They could never come to terms with our hanging of Ruth Ellis any more than I could.

If the school had knowledge of the situation why was it left so long? The signs were there, I think as a mother, I feel this man to be selfish, she should let her parents know she is well and alive.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.