Child sex scandals emerge at runaway's school as CCTV shows girl with teacher
New pictures released showing the 15-year-old with her teacher aboard a ferry to France
Rob Hastings is Assistant News Editor at The Independent. He has served on the news desk since 2010. While working as a freelance reporter and feature writer he was also published by The Guardian, The Times and the Financial Times.
Tuesday 25 September 2012
Serious concerns about child protection at Megan Stammers' school had been raised before the teenager ran away to France with her maths teacher. Last night, the school was linked to two earlier, unrelated child sex investigations.
It emerged yesterday that a supply teacher at Bishop Bell C of E school in Eastbourne, East Sussex, was jailed for sex offences in 2009. Robert Healey was sentenced to seven years for grooming two pupils for sex on the social networking website Bebo.
Meanwhile, Canon Gordon Rideout, a former chairman of governors, is due to appear in court next month charged with 38 child sex crimes between 1962 and 1973, though Bishop Bell has underlined that the alleged offences are not related to the pupils at the school and he was not a member of staff.
Yesterday, police released a security video showing Megan Stammers, the missing 15-year-old, holding hands with her 30-year-old maths teacher, Jeremy Forrest, aboard a ferry from Dover to Calais last Thursday.
As child safety campaigners condemned the school's leadership for failing to act in time to stop Megan and Mr Forrest disappearing, Sussex Police said last night that the pair could now be "anywhere in Europe". Chief Inspector Jason Tingley said his team of detectives was working with Interpol and other agencies across Europe to find out their location.
Officers will be asking the teenager's friends if they knew that she planned to run away, after some claimed that police and teachers were warned of concerns about Megan's friendship with Mr Forrest before she vanished.
Her classmates reported seeing Megan and Mr Forrest holding hands on a flight back from a school trip to Los Angeles in February. Despite their concerns, Mr Forrest was allowed to continue teaching, but he was reportedly due to be suspended last Friday. Sussex Police confirmed that its officers were contacted by East Sussex County Council last week over reports of the relationship.
A spokesman for the council said: "Because the investigations are ongoing we are not going to comment in detail. However, the school and the county council had been addressing and investigating concerns that had been raised, in line with procedure, when this happened. That investigation will continue."
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