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Alex Batty: Grandmother reveals final phone call before boy went missing for six years | UK News

The grandmother of the teenager missing for six years has recalled overhearing the boy’s mum say they’re “getting rid of the phones now” in their last phone call.

Alex Batty, now 17, did not return from a trip to Spain when he was 11 and is said to have lived an “alternative” lifestyle abroad before deciding to return home.

The teenager – now under the legal guardianship of his grandmother Susan Caruana, 68, in Oldham – said his mother was “anti-government, anti-vax” whose catchphrase was “becoming a slave to the system”.

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Ms Caruana said she had allowed the boy’s mother, Melanie Batty, and his grandfather, David Batty, to take him on holiday in September 2017.

But when Alex called to tell his grandmother they won’t be coming back, she feared she’d seen the last of him.

“They completely and utterly betrayed me and left me heartbroken,” she told the Sun.

“I knew as soon as I heard her say, ‘we’re getting rid of the phones now’. I thought ‘I’ll never see him again’.”

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Alex Batty: Police launch investigation

She added she didn’t know “if they were alive or dead” during the entire six years.

“Every time there was some sort of disaster I feared that he could be a victim,” she said.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed on Friday that a criminal investigation has been launched into Alex’s alleged abduction.

Alex landed in the UK on Saturday having been found by chiropody student Fabien Accidini near the French city of Toulouse last week after walking across the Pyrenees.

Officers in the UK interviewed Alex after his return from France, GMP said.

Last week, French prosecutors said the teenager’s mother, Melanie Batty, who does not have legal parental guardianship, may be in Finland.

Alex Batty 
Pic:GMP
Image:
Alex at a younger age. Pic: GMP

Alex – who said he gave his grandmother a “massive hug” when they were reunited – said he didn’t go to school at all during his time abroad.

He said he must have read the Harry Potter books “at least 20 times” and his main pastime was reading as he could rarely access Wi-Fi.

Read more:
Alex Batty says it feels ‘surreal’ to be home after being missing for six years
Alex Batty’s mother ‘spent summer living in French caravan using fake identity’

“During all my time away, I never attended school for a single day,” he said.

“The only qualifications I have are my SATs test results from primary school when I lived back in Oldham.

“That’s one of the worst things that’s happened to me throughout all this – not having a proper education.”

Alex Batty: Teenager says it feels ‘surreal’ to be home after being missing for six years | UK News

The teenager missing for six years before he was found in France said it feels “surreal” to be home and still goes to sleep not expecting to wake up in England.

Alex Batty was 11 when he went on holiday with his mother Melanie Batty – who does not have legal parental guardianship – and his grandfather David Batty, 59, in 2017.

He never returned and is said to have lived an “alternative” lifestyle abroad before deciding to return home.

A police investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance is ongoing.

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, the 17-year-old said he spent six years wandering around Europe with his mum and grandfather and first thought of leaving when he was 14.

He finally returned to the UK last weekend and says he is now staying with his grandmother in Oldham.

“Being back with my grandma feels quite surreal. Every time I go to sleep, I feel like I’m going to be waking up back in France. It’s not really kicked in yet that I am back in England,” he said.

“For the first few years, when I was in Spain, it was a vacation really, spending most days doing whatever I wanted, reading, drawing, going to the beach.”

He said he “started to pick up slack” at around 14, when he took up odd jobs in construction, decoration, painting walls and renovation work.

“I had a non-existent social life to be honest,” he said, adding he didn’t go to school and instead learned languages and studied maths and computing when he came across a textbook.

“And the entire six-year span, I made one friend and it was the only person really that I’d met for the entire six years that was even close to my age.”

Alex Batty's grandmother, Susan Caruana, pictured in 2017
Image:
Alex Batty’s grandmother, Susan Caruana, pictured in 2017

Speaking about his mother, who he described as “anti-government, anti-vax”, Alex said: “She’s a great person and I love her but she’s just not a great mum.

“I had an argument with my mum and I just thought I’m gonna leave because I can’t live with her.”

“I realised it wasn’t a great way to live for my future,” he added.

“Moving around. No friends, no social life. Working, working, work and not studying. That’s the life I imagined I would be leading if I were to stay with my mum.”

According the Sun, Alex walked out of a rented house they were staying in near Chalabre, in southern France, and left a goodbye note on Monday last week.

He was picked up by chiropody student Fabien Accidini near the French city of Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday – two days later.

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Student recalls rescuing Alex Batty

“He was delivering parcels so I helped him because it’s the least I could do,” Alex said.

“He let me use his phone to contact my grandma. After that he calls the police and a squad car nearby takes me to the nearest police station.”

After being looked after by the French authorities, Alex met his step-grandfather at Toulouse airport on Saturday before boarding a flight back to the UK, Greater Manchester Police said.

He can now look forward to spending time with family members, friends and others he grew up with in Greater Manchester, where he was living as a young boy and police say is “where he wants to be”.

Read more:
Alex Batty’s mother ‘spent summer living in French caravan using fake identity’
Missing Alex Batty ‘had been staying in French guesthouse without his mother’

“When I got back to Manchester it was raining as usual,” he added.

“I was driven back to my gran’s house and I walked in the door and she’s in the living room. I started shaking and just gave her a massive hug.

“The house is different now but still feels the same.”

French prosecutors said last week that Melanie Batty may be in Finland.

Missing Alex Batty ‘had been staying in French guesthouse without his mother’ | UK News

The owners of a French guesthouse have revealed missing British teenager Alex Batty spent recent years staying with them under a fake name without his mother.

Frederic Hambye and Ingrid Beauve said the teenager first arrived at their traditional gite farmhouse in late 2021 and had stayed with them on-and-off ever since.

The couple said they considered him “part of our family” and disclosed he had recently told them he aimed to return to the UK to go to school and live a normal life.

The revelation is the latest piece of the puzzle in solving the mystery of where Alex has been for the last six years.

He was 11 when went on holiday in 2017 with his mother Melanie Batty – who does not have legal parental guardianship – and his grandfather David Batty but never returned.

Alex, now 17, was found on Wednesday after a delivery driver offered him a lift near Toulouse.

This weekend he was reunited with family back in the UK – thought to include his grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana.

 Fred and Ingrid owners of french farmhouse
Image:
Fred and Ingrid, owners of the French farmhouse

On Sunday Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve issued a statement confirming they had taken Alex under their wing in recent years – but that they did not know his true identity and were told his name was “Zach”.

They said the teenager was accompanied by his mother and grandfather when he first came to their guesthouse in Camps-sur-l’Agly, southern France, two years ago.

The couple said his mother did not stay as she was “looking for a place to live” in a spiritual community, but they agreed to give the teenager accommodation in exchange for him doing chores in their garden and kitchen – and noted he “loved to cook”.

“He stayed with us for some longer or shorter periods. He left several times to join his mother in her successive places of residence between Aude and Ariege,” Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve said.

The couple said he was keen to participate in “the life of the gite,” and got on well with their children as he joined them in activities such as cycling and trips to the beach.

Read more:
Alex fled ‘because mum wanted to take him to Finland’
What really happened after he vanished?
Man who found him says Alex ‘wants to live normal life’

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Delivery driver recalls rescuing Alex Batty

The couple said “Zach” last came back to stay with them in the summer and “as time went on we saw him as part of our family and we think he appreciated the stability and security we represented for him”.

They added the teenager had a room to himself with unlimited internet access and was “completely free to come and go as he pleased”.

Mr Hambye and Ms Beauve said they encouraged him to learn French and study, and helped him “find a school where he could be admitted without prior education”, while also noting that he showed an aptitude for computers.

But the couple said he told them he was eager to to go to school and “get back a normal life” but did not have any identification paperwork that would allow him to get back to Britain.

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Missing British teenager ‘fled from mother’

The gite owners said they offered to drive him to the British consulate to help him get ID, but he said he would “find a way to return to the UK on his own to get new papers”.

The last they heard he had left to “join his mother”. “We reiterated to him that he would always be welcome and that if needed, we were there to help him”.

The whereabouts of Alex’s mother is not known, although French prosecutors believe she could be in Finland.

Meanwhile his grandfather is thought to have died around six months ago.

Alex Batty: Missing British teenager ‘reunited with family member’ and returned to UK from France | UK News

A teenager found in France six years after he was reported missing has been reunited with his family and returned to the UK.

Alex Batty was 11 when he never returned from a holiday to Spain with his mother Melanie Batty, 38 – who does not have legal parental guardianship – and his grandfather David Batty, 59 in 2017.

Confirming his arrival, Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle of Greater Manchester Police said: “Earlier today Alex met with a family member alongside Greater Manchester Police officers at Toulouse airport, before heading back to the UK.

“This moment is undoubtedly huge for him and his loved ones and we are glad that they have been able to see each other again after all this time.”

His grandmother and legal guardian Susan Caruana previously said she “can’t wait” to see him when he returns.

The whereabouts of his mother are not known at this time.

ACC Boyle said that while the French authorities have “disclosed detailed information” about where Alex has been for the last six years, GMP has not yet spoken to the teen.

“We are yet to establish the full circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but no matter what, understand that this may be an overwhelming process,” he said.

“He may now be six years older than when he went missing, but he is still a young person.”

The force will speak with Alex “at a pace that feels comfortable to him” to determine whether a criminal investigation into his disappearance will ensue.

“Our continued focus is supporting Alex and his family in partnership with other local agencies to ensure they are safe, their wellbeing is looked after, and his reintegration with society is as easy as possible,” said ACC Boyle.

Alex found ‘walking alone’

Alex was found by chiropractic student Fabien Accidini while walking alone near Toulouse in the early hours of Wednesday.

Fabien Accidini - delivery driver who picked up missing briton Alex Batty
Image:
Fabien Accidini, the delivery driver who picked up the missing Briton

Ms Caruana, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, said on Friday: “I cannot begin to express my relief and happiness that Alex has been found safe and well.

“I spoke with him last night and it was so good to hear his voice and see his face again. I can’t wait to see him when we’re reunited.

“The main thing is that he’s safe, after what would be an overwhelming experience for anyone, not least a child.”

Alex Batty's grandmother, Susan Caruana, pictured in 2017
Image:
Alex Batty’s grandmother, Susan Caruana, pictured in 2017

She asked for privacy as the family welcomed Alex back.

It is thought Alex had been living an “alternative” lifestyle with his mother and grandfather across Spain, Morocco and France while he was missing.

French officials said he decided to leave when his mother wanted to go to Finland.

Mr Accidini said the teenager told him he had been hiking in nearby mountains for more than four days in an attempt to return to England.

Read more:
What happened to Alex Batty?
‘The middle of nowhere road’ where Alex was found
Fabien says Alex ‘wants to live a normal life’

Views of the road in Toulouse where Alex Batty was found. (Screengrab from Alan Parsons package)
Image:
Views of the road in Toulouse where the teenager was found

On Friday, French prosecutors said the teenager’s mother, Melanie Batty, who is wanted in connection with his disappearance, may be in Finland, while his grandfather David Batty has died.

Prosecutor Antoine Leroy said Alex had said he knew his way of life with his mother “had to stop” after she announced an intention to move to Finland.

This led him to walk for “four days and four nights” across the Pyrenees, Mr Leroy said.

Alex was described as “tired” but “in good health” after being checked over by French officials and seemed “intelligent” even though he had not attended school for six years.

The prosecutor also said the boy did not appear to have been subjected to any physical violence.

Gary Lineker row: Alex Scott and Jason Mohammad pull out of shows as BBC controversy grows | UK News

Final Score presenter Jason Mohammad has become the latest to pull out of programmes on the BBC today as the row involving the broadcaster and Gary Lineker grows.

The programme is not going ahead this afternoon, and has been replaced by The Repair Shop.

It comes after the midday Football Focus programme was also scrapped after Alex Scott and other pundits pulled out, with Bargain Hunt being shown in its place.

Lineker did not answer reporter questions when he left his home in Barnes, west London, this morning, as he was getting into his chauffeured BMW.

BBC accused of ‘assault on free speech’ – Lineker row latest updates

Former England player Alex Scott tweeted: “I made a decision last night that even though I love doing football focus and we have had an incredible week winning an SJA award that it just doesn’t feel right going ahead with the show today. Hopefully I will be back in the chair next week…”

It’s understood Glenn Murray and Anita Asante were due to be the pundits on today’s show.

Jason Mohammad also said he wouldn’t be on the BBC’s results programme on Saturday afternoon.

“As you know, Final Score is a TV show very close to my heart,” he tweeted.

“However – I have this morning informed the BBC that I will not be presenting the show this afternoon on BBC One.”

Radio host Mark Chapman has also pulled out of hosting BBC Radio 5 Live Sport this afternoon, Sky News understands.

Kelly Somers also said she would not be hosting Football Focus, tweeting: “Just to confirm I won’t be on BBC television today.”

Read more: The BBC’s guidelines on impartiality explained – and do they apply to Gary Lineker?

Other presenters, commentators and pundits who have pulled out of BBC football shows today include Marc Webber, Chris Wise, Alan Shearer, Conor McNamara, Ian Wright and Steve Wilson.

Match of the Day will go ahead tonight however – but without a presenter, pundits or BBC commentators after Lineker was removed from the programme over his tweets on the government’s new migrants policy.

The BBC said there would be no “studio presentation or punditry” and that the show would instead focus on “match action”.

Earlier, a former director-general of the corporation said the BBC had “undermined its own credibility” by taking Lineker off air.

Greg Dyke, also a former chairman of the FA, told BBC Radio 4’s Today that the broadcaster was “mistaken” in standing Lineker down.

The row started on Tuesday when Lineker tweeted his thoughts on the government’s policy to stem the flow of small boats crossing the Channel.

The BBC deemed the tweet had broken its editorial guidelines.