THE father of a married maths teacher who has run away with a teenage pupil urged his son and the missing schoolgirl to “please, please get in contact” as a week passed since the pair fled to France.
Jim Forrest fought back tears as he sat beside his distraught wife Julie to implore Jeremy Forrest, 30, and 15-year-old Megan Stammers to call or email home.
Directly appealing to the runaways, Mr Forrest, of Petts Wood, London, said: “Hi Megan, hi Jeremy, I hope this message reaches you and you are both OK. 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 email, so we know you are both safe.
“We are all here for you both. Please, please get in contact.”
He made his appeal as Sussex Police revealed an international letter of request and European Arrest Warrant had been issued in relation to child abduction. The arrest warrant was issued on Tuesday afternoon, five days after Megan and Mr Forrest boarded a ferry from Dover to Calais.
Asked why a warrant was not issued earlier, Chief Inspector Jason Tingley said their belief was that the pair might use return ferry tickets to come home on Sunday.
He also said there was no suggestion they might be dead.
The last confirmed sighting of Megan and Mr Forrest, who is a maths teacher at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, is from CCTV cameras on board a cross-Channel 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.
Mr Tingley said there were a number of rumoured sightings in Europe and inquiries are taking place with countries to confirm or dismiss them.
He urged Mr Forrest to make contact, saying he would be aware “he has questions to answer” and that getting the pair home safely was their top priority.
Speaking at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes, Chief Insp 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.”
Amid question marks over the efforts being made by European counterparts, details of the arrest warrant and Mr Forrest’s Ford Fiesta are being circulated to all countries on the Continent.
Reports have claimed French police were not actively looking for the pair and had not carried out standard credit card or mobile phone checks. Police refused to say what type of help they were getting from overseas, saying it was a “tactical question”.
Mr Tingley said the French authorities had “a slightly different perspective” because what has happened is not seen as an offence in that country, “but we have their full support and we have that team working with us”.
He added: “We have a detective inspector working in France with a team of officers that are dedicated to this inquiry.
“If we’re 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.”
Megan left her home in Walton Close, Eastbourne at around 4.30pm last Thursday, telling her mother she was going to stay overnight at a friend’s house.
Later that day, CCTV recorded Mr Forrest’s black Ford Fiesta, registration GJ08 RJO, heading to the Port of Dover with Megan in the passenger seat.
They headed across the Channel on a ferry some time after 9.30pm that night.
The following morning Megan’s mother, Danielle Wilson, received a standard text message from her school to say Megan had not attended lessons, leading to police being called.
Ms Wilson told reporters this week that during her last conversation with Megan, her daughter appeared “really excitable” and was “jumping around”.
Megan and Mr Forrest, a married amateur musician who lives near Lewes, had tickets to return to England on Sunday evening but did not board the ferry.