Megan Stammers 'love story' elicits sympathy in France
Jeremy Forrest's lawyer says he did nothing wrong except fall in love with a 15-year-old
THE Megan Stammers affair has highlighted the difference between attitudes to love in France and England. Some parts of the French media are depicting the 15-year-old’s elopement with Jeremy Forrest, a married teacher twice her age, as a "love story" that has now come to a "brutal" end after they were "betrayed" when they were recognised in an expat bar.
The pair left England on a cross-Channel ferry last month and were discovered a week later in Bordeaux. Forrest has been held on suspicion of child abduction while Stammers has been reunited with her family.
Speaking through his French lawyer, Forrest has insisted he did nothing wrong. He told Daniel Lalane, who is defending him: "I didn’t hurt her – I love her... I’ve done nothing wrong except fall in love."
Many in France, where the age of consent is 15, appear to agree. And Lalane told French media: "He was arrested while he was in Bordeaux looking for work to extend his love a little further in a country that may be more understanding [than Britain]."
The newspaper Sud Ouest described the tale as "a love story between a handsome maths teacher and a schoolgirl romantic" and lamented the sudden influx of English journalists into Bordeaux over the weekend.
It spoke to Eric Augier, the manager of the hotel in Bordeaux where Stammers and Forrest spent their first night in the town. "This story seems almost trivial," he said. "I do not see anything extraordinary in this case. In my day, it was not uncommon for 15-year-old girls to go out with older men."
The same paper also spoke to another local who likened the couple to famed American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
Back in this country the Mirror expresses astonishment at the way the French have portrayed the incident as a tragic love story. "They think it came to a sad end because the pair weren’t smart enough to stay away from expat pubs and ultimate betrayal," sniffs the paper.