Teacher arrested after missing schoolgirl is found in France

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The teacher of schoolgirl Megan Stammers was in custody in France last night as the teenager’s family expressed their joy that she had been found.

Jeremy Forrest, 30, was arrested on suspicion of child abduction in Bordeaux yesterday, just over a week after he and the 15-year-old disappeared together.

They were spotted by someone who recognised Forrest from television coverage, said chief inspector Jason Tingley of Sussex Police.

It was the third potential sighting of the pair in the city and they were tracked down shortly after midday.

It is understood the teenager spoke to her family on the telephone and reports last night suggested she was being flown back to the UK.

Maths teacher Forrest, a married amateur musician from Ringmer near Lewes, was being questioned ahead of a court appearance in the next few days.

Megan’s stepfather Martin Stammers said: “We just can’t wait to be reunited with her. Our family are overjoyed at the outcome. As you can imagine it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster.”

Thanking the police, media and the public for their help, Mr Stammers added: “I just can’t put it into words how grateful we are as a family.”

He asked that they are left alone in private to “bond as a family” after her disappearance.

Mr Tingley said: “Megan is now in the care of British consular staff and Sussex Police child protection team officers.

“She will be returned to the UK to be with her family. Jeremy is in custody in Bordeaux and the process of his extradition will now commence.”

Megan, from Eastbourne in East Sussex, was reported missing when she failed to turn up for school last Friday.

It later emerged she had travelled to France with Forrest in his car the previous evening. The pair had sailed on a ferry from Dover to Calais after Megan had permission from her mother to sleep over at a friend’s house.

The alarm was raised after her school made a routine call to question why she was not in class the following morning.

Danielle Wilson begged her daughter to come home during an emotional press conference this week, telling her: “Please darling, just do anything – text me, ring me, send me a message.”

Forrest’s parents Jim and Julie Forrest, who also issued an appeal for their safe return, said in a statement: “We are pleased that Megan and Jeremy have been found safe and well. This has been an ordeal for all the families concerned.

“We would like to thank Sussex and the French police as well as the media for their assistance.

“We are relieved that the search is finally over and everyone can now focus on a safe and secure return for them both.”

Bishop Bell C of E School headteacher Terry Boatwright said everyone was “delighted”.

“Throughout the last week, finding Megan has been everyone’s priority and a major focus of our thoughts and prayers in school,” he added.

“Clearly, much needs to be done now to support Megan, and her family, as they seek to return to some sort of normality and we will do all we can to play our part in that.”

It was claimed that concerns had been raised about the teenager’s relationship with her teacher as early as February, when her friend told another teacher that they had been seen holding hands.

East Sussex Council said it is investigating what happened.