Sara Payne's health 'improving'

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne is improving in hospital and has started to talk again, it was disclosed today.

Sara Payne, 40, has been responding well to treatment after being taken to hospital with complications after brain surgery.

The child protection campaigner fell ill just before Christmas and was initially thought to be in a life-threatening condition.

A spokesman for St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London, said today: "She's in a stable condition and she's improving."

Her friend Michele Elliott, founder and director of campaign group Kidscape, said: "She wasn't able to talk over Christmas but was able to respond. Now she is able to talk again and things are improving.

"It's a huge relief but knowing the kind of person Sara is, it didn't surprise me because if somebody was going to come through something like this, it would be her.

"She wants to be there for her children and she wants to be there for her charity. She is just indomitable and is a fantastic person.

"It may take a while for her to come through this fully but the fact that she has started to talk again means the prognosis is good."

Relatives and friends, including fellow campaigner Shy Keenan, have been at her bedside.

Mrs Payne had a life-saving operation to cure a ruptured aneurysm in 2008.

Since the death of her daughter Sarah at the hands of paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000, Mrs Payne has become a prominent campaigner for victims' rights.

She took up the Government-appointed post of Victims' Champion at the end of last January.

Mrs Payne launched a high-profile campaign for "Sarah's Law" after her daughter's murder, giving parents the right to know if paedophiles live near them.

A limited form of the law, based on America's Megan's Law, was announced in February 2008.

She was given an MBE in the 2008 New Year Honours List for her tireless work to keep children safe from paedophiles.

Her daughters Charlotte, 15, and Ellie, five, were looked after by relatives over Christmas. Her sons Lee and Luke are 22 and 21.

Mrs Payne's father, Brian Williams, who died two years ago, was left paralysed by an aneurysm at 55, according to reports.

Her eight-year-old daughter disappeared while out playing in July 2000. Sixteen days later, Mrs Payne, originally from Surrey, was told Sarah's body had been found in a West Sussex field, around 15 miles from the cornfield near her grandparents' home where the little girl had been playing.

Whiting had previously served a jail sentence for abducting and sexually assaulting another eight-year-old girl.