A bizarre new twist in the saga that has followed the murder of schoolgirl Billie-Jo Jenkins nine years ago emerged last night when a newspaper published lengthy claims by an unnamed British prisoner that he murdered the 13-year-old.
Sussex police said late last night that they had no knowledge of this apparently new suspect.
According to the News of the World, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder at Wakefield prison in Yorkshire confessed that he killed the schoolgirl at her home in Hastings in February 1997.
The newspaper claimed that officers from Sussex police force were preparing to travel to Yorkshire to interview the prisoner.
Billie-Jo's foster father, Sion Jenkins, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to life in 1998. The clinching piece of evidence was the 148 microscopic specks of Billie-Jo's blood found on Mr Jenkins's clothing.
But the conviction was quashed by the Court of Appealafter six years. New scientific evidence suggested that the blood could have been splattered on Mr Jenkins when he bent down to check if Billie-Jo was breathing.
Juries at two further re-trials failed to reach a verdict and the former deputy headteacher was finally acquitted 10 days ago. Outside the court he accused police of being "wilfully blind and incompetent".
A spokesman for Sussex police said last night: "Detective Chief Inspector Pratt has no knowledge of this suggestion and confirms that no Sussex officers are attending any prison to interview any such detained person.
"If any members of the press are aware of the name of the suspect, we would be keen to know."