Media Monitoring Exercise – Megan Stammers

The story of Megan Stammers, 15, running away to France with her Mathematics teacher Jeremy Forrest, 30, has been covered in media across the UK since her disappearance 5 days ago.

Sources such as the Guardian, Times, Daily Mail, Eastbourne Herald (Megan’s hometown), Huffington Post and the BBC all report many of the same details: that Stammers and Forrest had taken a ferry from Dover to Calais on Thursday night (20.09.12);

that their relationship may been continuing since February 2012 after a fellow pupil reported their holding hands on a school flight back from Los Angeles; that Megan’s friends may know more than they are divulging about her plans or whereabouts; and that the police are unaware whether or not the couple are still in France, or have travelled farther afield in Europe.

France24.com stresses the fact that she may be elsewhere other than France more so than other news outlets, whilst Le Figaro reports that the prosecutor of Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Jean-Philippe Joubert, said that “no investigation is being conducted in France” and that a 15-year-old leaving consensually with an adult would not be considered a crime in France unless her parents were to report statutory rape.

The Eastbourne Herald has also reported that as well as the controversy surrounding Forrest, Stammers’ school has had controversy with teachers in the past. Previous supply teacher Robert Healy, 27, was sentenced to 7 years for grooming two female pupils on social media, and Governor Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, was allowed to stay in his position despite facing Criminal Records Bureau checks and allegations of previous child sex abuse.

The BBC reports that education secretary Michael Gove was made aware of these previous issues at the school, as well as “serious concerns” about the school’s “inadequate” protection policy, in a letter from Lucy Duckworth, from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood.

On the morning of Wednesday 26th September, the Times newspaper reported on Robert Healy, and also that fellow teachers at Bishop Bell (Stammers’ school), the head teacher and local police were all aware of their potential relationship, and that the school had been investigating. The newspaper also mentions a ‘bucket list’ of activities that she would like to complete before she died that Stammers kept online, on which ‘fall in love’ had been crossed off as if completed. Furthermore, it reports that Megan posted a message on Twitter in July saying, “I just want to run away forever” to which Forrest replied “me and you J Let’s just run away.”

The Daily Mail, states that the pair ran away to France having been quizzed by police over their affair and having their mobile phones confiscated in an attempt to stop their meetings. It displays tattoos that Forrest got earlier this year displaying a brunette woman and a dog, and suggests that the woman depicted may be intended to be Megan. The Daily Mail website also adds to the bucket list reported elsewhere, stating one of the entries as ‘fall in love and have someone sing a song about it’.

The Huffington Post contains the same details as elsewhere but also adds song lyrics written by Forrest, an amateur musician. The lyrics are “Sitting on the plane, we were miles away from the things you hate, but girl I’d do it all again, I’d hold your hand, put up with the friend, don’t think that I won’t.” Coupled with the reports from the Daily Mail this would appear to be the song that Megan has crossed from her bucket list, and appears to refer to the incident on the plane back from Los Angeles in which other pupils reported Forrest and Stammers holding hands.

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