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Alex Batty reveals he lied about escape to protect his mother: ‘I didn’t get lost’

‘I’ve been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad,’ says teen reunited with grandmother after six years

Stuti Mishra
Friday 22 December 2023 09:34 GMT
‘Abducted’ Alex Batty has video called grandmother since being found, police say

British teenager Alex Batty, who was found in France after being missing for six years, has revealed that he had lied about the details of his escape to protect his mother and grandfather from potential legal consequences.

The teenager arrived back in Oldham, Greater Manchester last week to be reunited with his grandmother, who is also his legal guardian, after he was found walking by a roadside by a French driver.

Alex was aged just 11 when he was first reported missing in 2017 after travelling to Europe on holiday. He says he was living with his mother and grandfather for at least two of the six years since he vanished in Malaga, Spain and that they spent time at a “spiritual” commune in southern France.

Speaking to The Sun, Alex admitted that he fabricated the now widely-circulated story of his four-day journey to escape the commune. The false narrative was crafted in the hope that it would deter police from tracking down his mother and grandfather, who could face arrest on suspicion of child abduction.

“I’ve been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad, but I realise that they’re probably gonna get caught anyway,” Alex said.

Contrary to the initial reports, Alex said that his actual journey was a two-day hike. He first travelled to Quillan to feign seeking directions before heading towards Toulouse.

“I didn’t get lost. I knew exactly where I was going,” he added.

The 17-year-old was spotted by a French delivery driver on a road in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, near Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday last week on a rainy morning.

After police involvement, Alex was then connected with his grandmother back in the UK over a video call and brought back to the country.

Alex Batty, who went missing in Spain aged 11, returned to the UK over the weekend (PA Media)

The now 17-year-old told The Sun that he started having doubts about the nomadic lifestyle imposed by his family when he was around 14 or 15 years old.

The desire for a more stable future and the chance to fulfil his dreams of becoming a software engineer prompted him to abandon their nomadic existence in the French Pyrenees, he said, adding: “I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future.”

He told the outlet if he stayed with his mum his life would involve “moving around, no friends, no social life. Working, working, work and not studying”.

Alex said he had earlier broached the idea of returning to England with his grandfather, who, contrary to speculation by French police, was alive at the time of his escape. He chose not to involve his mother in the decision-making process, fearing her resistance to his plans and concerns about potential repercussions.

“She wasn’t really open to any other opinions whereas grandad is more of a listener,” Alex said.

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