Megan Stammers 'love story' elicits sympathy in France

Oct 1, 2012

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.

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Wish everyone would just let them be together; love makes you blind to flaws and mistakes. Megan is a matture, beautiful, ambitious young girl who has fallen madly and deeply in love with a intelligent, musician, who just happened to be her teacher and double her age. Who actually cares? Leave them be to be in love. She went willingly. It was NOT child abduction. They planned a life together, he hasn't done anything wrong.

Now the family abducted the girl! What a shame! The girl knows he is not a bad lot. She thinks he deserves her love and it seems she is right. England, read some of your Shakespeare!

God people are so funny. Of course he has done wrong - he has abused his position as a teacher. No matter what the age is she is still a student. It is bizzare how people think this is some tragic love story. He is a married man (or does this mean bugger all to people nowadays). Is it ok to have an affair?

If it was meant to be real, then he should have taken steps to split from his wife and wait until she was 16.

It is a complete farce.

JMNx I completely agree! They have done nothing wrong except fall in love! Yes, he has abused his position as a teacher and yes he was wrong for having an affair, but love makes you blind! I feel truly sorry for this couple, so what if there is 15 years age difference, if she was 20 and he was 35 no one would blink twice! They only went to France so they could be together until she was 16 at which point they would legally be allowed to be together! She's 16 in June, so 9 months time and no one can stop them anyway, if he wasn't her teacher there wouldn't be as much fuss about it.

Let them be together!

I see a difference between what Sud Ouest writes and the the way this article describes/translates it. My suggestion is you shouldn't take it too literally.
It is true that they are not really shocked. 15 is barely enough but still enough to fall in love and have feelings. In this case, love may be based on an inexperienced understanding of life and what's implied in such a relation, but that's still love from their point of view. And there is nothing certain that he abused of his position or that she did not take an active part in the birth of this relation. A relation, not an affair! I would even not be suprised if no sex had been involved at all.
Broken love still sounds tragic to me. One thing only will tell us if it was a true love or just a "passade": will they still be together after he will be released from jail?

How utterly stupid. if they were so much in love they could have waited another two years and then they could have done their "business" together. The teacher most of all is the stupidest in this story, not able to control himself while he was fully aware that he was breaking the law. As for the French...all I can say is what do you expect from people who have absolutely no principles except to satisfy their pleasure at all costs.

Well, I suppose his wife of one year cares.
And so do those who believe that marriage vows are important.
"Love" means caring for someone for a long time - otherwose it is just lust.

They would, I think, have had to wait until she was 18, since, as her teacher, he was in a position of trust (Sexual Offences Act 2003, s 16)

Your comment about the French is even more stupid. I live in France, they have a damn sight more principles than some UK people I can think of.

Who feckin' cares?