The father of maths teacher Jeremy Forrest appealed directly to him and his teenage pupil Megan Stammers yesterday, saying: “Please, please get in contact.”
Jim Forrest fought back tears as he appeared at a police press conference to urge the pair to come home. He said: “Hi Megan, hi Jeremy, I hope this message reaches you and you are both okay. There are a lot of people back home that are desperate to hear from you. All I am asking is for one of you to make a call, send an e-mail, so we know you are both safe. We are all here for you both. Please, please get in contact.”
Mr Forrest, from Petts Wood, London, appeared alongside his tearful wife Julie to make the appeal a week after the pair boarded a ferry to France.
The pair, from Eastbourne, have not been seen or heard from since despite desperate pleas by Megan’s parents. Sussex Police confirmed yesterday that a European arrest warrant had been issued for Forrest for child abduction.
Mr Forrest senior thanked the force for “all they are doing in helping to bring Megan and Jeremy back home safely”.
The last confirmed sighting of Megan, 15, and 30-year-old Forrest – who taught Maths at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne – was from CCTV cameras on board a Dover-to-Calais ferry at 9.30pm last Thursday. The release of two images of the pair, arm-in-arm and holding hands, was intended to trigger a response from the public about their whereabouts. But there have been no further sightings, police have said.
Speaking at the same press conference Chief Inspector Jason Tingley said: “This has probably not gone the way that Megan or Jeremy expected. Jeremy will be aware that he has questions to answer, and making contact with us is the best way he can do this. As part of the process of working with the French authorities, we have secured an international letter of request and a European arrest warrant.
“These orders, which have been obtained with the help of the Crown Prosecution Service, enable us to work with the European authorities, and are in relation to an offence of child abduction. This means taking Megan without the consent of her parents. The full details of this warrant have been circulated to every EU country.
“When the pair are found in an EU country, Jeremy can be arrested and Megan will be taken into protection.”
He said an officer from the Sussex force had gone to Paris to work with French police searching for the pair. Mr Tingley said the European arrest warrant was issued on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are liaising with those countries, particularly the French and Interpol, and we need to get into a position to confirm them or not. We have a detective inspector working in France with a team of officers that are dedicated to this inquiry,” he said, adding: “If we are contacted by Megan or Jeremy, we will be able to react to that very quickly, because our priority is still their safe return to this country.”
Mr Tingley said the French authorities had “a slightly different perspective”, because what had happened was not seen as an offence in that country, “but we have their full support, and we have that team working with us”.
Details of the pair and the vehicle were being circulated to all European countries. Mr Tingley said the tickets had been bought in advance.
“We understand that Megan went willingly with Jeremy, so there was an element of pre-planning.”