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Search for Megan Stammers: No new sightings
4:46pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in News
The Europe-wide search for missing Eastbourne schoolgirl Megan Stammers and her teacher has failed to uncover any confirmed new sightings, six days after they fled to the Continent.
British police were working with Interpol, the French Missing Persons Bureau and other law enforcement agencies in Europe to trace Megan, 15, and 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest.
The last confirmed sighting of Megan and Forrest - who taught maths at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex - was from CCTV cameras on board a Dover to Calais ferry at 9.30pm last Thursday.
Pictured arm-in-arm and hand-in-hand, the release of the two images of the pair together was intended to trigger a response from the public about their whereabouts.
But tonight, Sussex Police had no new update on the status of the investigation as anxious friends, family and strangers implored her online to get in touch with loved ones.
The force refused to be drawn on whether they have evidence of them using cash cards or ATM machines, and there has been no comment on whether mobile phone cell site analysis has yielded any leads.
Police have previously said that although Megan and Forrest entered France, they could be further afield now.
The search continued as fresh concerns emerged about the child protection policies at the pair's school.
Child abuse campaigner Lucy Duckworth said she wrote to Education Secretary Michael Gove earlier this year highlighting her worries about Bishop Bell but did not receive a reply.
Amid concerns about child protection in church schools in the Diocese of Chichester, Ms Duckworth wrote to those in the area asking to see their safeguarding policies.
She claims that staff at Bishop Bell were hostile to her demands and, when the policy was put online this year, ex-teacher Ms Duckworth alleges it contained a number of inadequacies.
She said: "The policy does not commit to informing parents or the local authority of any suspected or known abuse.
"If there was a robust policy in place, the parents would be informed.
"What we found was there was a whole section on safe recruiting but very little on how to effectively protect children.
"I'm convinced that, had that policy been in place, the parents would have been able to make a decision on their prolonged contact and Megan would be with us.
"Executive headteacher Terry Boatwright says his policies are robust but I would like to see evidence of that.
"I struggle to understand how he is still walking through those school gates still."
The Department for Education had not responded with a comment tonight.
Mr Boatwright said: "Bishop Bell School has a robust safeguarding policy in place, takes safeguarding very seriously and the effectiveness of its safeguarding procedures is rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted."
The school has been under the spotlight over the way it dealt with warnings about a relationship between Megan and Forrest.
It has been alleged that their closeness prompted concerns following a school trip to Los Angeles in February.
East Sussex County Council confirmed it and school officials were "addressing and investigating concerns" but the authority had not revealed when those were made.
Eastbourne MP, Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd, has publicly defended the school, saying its inquiries into the fears raised about Megan and Forrest would have been conducted in an "exemplary manner".
The school has also faced damaging revelations about two men with links to it.
In 2009, supply teacher Robert Healy, then aged 27, was jailed for seven years at Lewes Crown Court after grooming two pupils on social networking site Bebo.
In a separate case, a former chairman of governors, Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, is due to appear at Crown Court next month after being charged with 38 child sex offences over an 11-year period from 1962.
The school has previously acknowledged the links but said he was not a member of staff and the allegations were historical and unrelated to the school.
As the focus on the school continued today, so did the online appeal for Megan to return home, with girl group The Saturdays urging her to contact her family.
The band's Frankie Sandford tweeted: "Megan, on behalf of myself, Mollie, Vanessa, Una and Roch, please come home or call your mum.
Everyone is so worried about you! Lots of love x"
Bandmate Rochelle Humes added: "Megan please come home! Everyone is concerned and just want you home. No one at home will be mad at you just happy to see U! All our love xx"
Megan is white, 5ft 6ins, slim, with long, straight, dark brown hair, blue eyes and was last seen wearing a white vest top and silver chain.
Forrest is 6ft, slim, with fuzzy facial hair and mousy brown hair. He wears square glasses, dresses casually and has a black star tattoo on his upper left arm.
Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, quoting Operation Oakwood.
A dedicated telephone number and text number which can be used from abroad have been set up. They are 00 44 1273 475432 or text +447786 208090.