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'Fearful' Alex Batty will be given legal protection as he restarts life in UK after six years away, court decides
21 December 2023, 21:04 | Updated: 22 December 2023, 00:27
British teenager Alex Batty will be granted special legal protection as he restarts his life in the UK six years after disappearing while on holiday in Spain.
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Alex, 17, has been "fearful of the glare of publicity" since he returned to live with his grandmother, Susan Caruana, a court was told on Thursday.
High Court judges will act as Alex's legal guardian as his grandmother Susan continues to look after him until he turns 18 in a few months time.
Judge Singleton said: "It seems to me that it would makes something of a non-sense of the media's attendance if the identity of the young person was not included with what could be reported, because, to use more casual speech, it's out there already.
"Alex is, perhaps entirely understandably some-what fearful of the glare of publicity around his circumstances.
"There is, it seems to me, to be a legitimate public interest in reporting the outcome of a difficult set of circumstances of a young person.
"He is being supported by his maternal grandmother and Oldham Council to resume a normal life, here."
It comes after it emerged that Alex's mother is thought to have fled to Spain, days after the British boy reappeared having gone missing for six years.
Melanie Batty is believed to have gone over the border from southern France along with her father, David, who may not be dead as previously thought.
She is reported to have taken her son around Spain and Morocco before settling in France under the name "Rose" as she pursued a "spiritual" life and hoped to set up an alternative community.
Alex was given the pseudonym Zac, while David appeared to use the name Peter.
French police believe David died recently and Melanie had gone to Finland - with Alex revealing he left and hiked four days over the Pyrenees before being picked up after she wanted to go there.
A friend suggested she wanted to "to get away from the attention" after Alex left.
They told the Mail: "Rose, as we knew Melanie, has fled. She's long gone. She's gone to Spain.
"I think [her father] Peter has gone with her. She wanted to get away from all the attention.
"Rose, her dad and Zac are a nice family but always a bit cautious.
"I don't know the full extent of their story, but it was not for nothing that they fled Britain.
"Rose [said she] took her son out of a bad situation and protected him as much as she could for as long as she could.
"She would mention odd things about her past. She said the life they were living in England before was hell."
Alex, then 11, disappeared on a family holiday to Spain with Melanie and David in 2017.
But he dramatically remerged this month when a French delivery driver picked him up in the Aude region and took him to Toulouse.
He has since been brought to the UK and is living with Susan Caruana, 68, his grandmother. He previously lived with her in Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Police said they planned to speak to Alex about what happened but wanted to ensure his reintegration with society is as "easy as possible".