THE parents of Eastbourne teacher, Jeremy Forrest, sat side by side at a police press conference this afternoon urging their son, who is believed to have fled abroad with teenager Megan Stammers, to get in touch.
Fighting back tears, Jim Forrest told a packed news conference at Sussex Police headquarters: “Please, please get in touch.”
It’s now been almost a week since 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest was last seen with 15-year-old Megan Stammers aboard a cross Channel ferry bound for Calais.
Their disappearance has sparked a huge search for the pair from Bishop Bell School where Megan was a pupil and Mr Forrest taught maths.
“All I’m asking is for one of you to make a call or send an email to let us know you’re both safe,” said Jim Forrest, who was flanked by wife Julie.
“A lot of people back home are desperate to hear from you. We are all here for you both and just need to hear from you.”
BBC TV’s Crimewatch programme is due to broadcast an appeal tonight in a further bid to trace the pair.
At the press conference staged at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes, Chief Inspector Jason Tingley said that they were liaisingwith authorities in France. He said: “We’re working closely with an inquiry team from Paris. A detective inspector has travelled to work with the French team.
“Efforts abroad have been specifically focused on information gathering. We can act swiftly to any information received. Our priority is to find them and bring them back to Britain. Megan or Jeremy, making contact with us is the best way for this to happen.”
Chief Inspector Tingley confirmed that a European arrest warrant and an international letter of request related to the offence of child abduction had been issued, since Megan had been taken without her parents’ permission.
He said: “Clearly we need to get a balance between what the UK looks at and the slightly different French perspective as it’s not an offence there. But we have their full support. That’s why we’ve requested that letter in terms of them working with us under their juristiction on our behalf.
“We are liaising with all the European countries in regards to circulation of their description, description of the vehicle and will do so in relation to any sightings.”
The Sussex police chief acknowledged there was an element of pre-planning with the couple’s flight through the pre-booking of ferry tickets from Dover.
He said he believes Mr Forrest knows he has questions to answer, but the best way he can do this is by making contact. He added: “It is not too late for either Jeremy or Megan to contact us directly so we can make sure they get safely back to this country.”
And he added: “As time goes on, clearly our concern may increase. We know Megan went willingly. We’ve given them every opportunity to come back voluntarily. The best scenario is that they make contact and we are wishing and hoping that happens.”
Chief Inspector Tingley said that Sussex police was working to support Megan’s family, Mr Forrest’s family and the school.