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Alex Batty's mother 'thought Covid-19 was created by the state,' friend says as Interpol joins search
18 December 2023, 12:36
The mother of British teenager Alex Batty has been described as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ who believed Covid-19 was manufactured to control people, a friend has said.
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Interpol have now joined the search for Alex’s mother Melanie Batty. She is now thought to be somewhere in Finland.
Expat Susie Harrison who knows Melanie from a local market in the Pyrenees, told MailOnline: “Rose is a conspiracy theorist. She believes that Covid-19 was not real, that it was created by the state to control people.
“She really wanted to set up a spiritual community here in the south of France… a special group of like-minded people.”
Alex, now 17, is back in the UK with his grandmother, from Oldham, after hiking over the mountains for four days.
Police are piecing together what happened since Alex vanished while on holiday with his mother Melanie and grandfather David in an alleged kidnapping.
While Greater Manchester Police is yet to establish whether it will open a criminal investigation, it is understood Interpol is looking for Ms Batty.
"The boy claims that his mother has gone to Finland to see the Northern Lights, so the search for her is continuing across Europe," an investigation source told The Sun.
"This does not mean that the search has stopped in France – she has been placed here regularly over the years, and may well still be hiding in the countryside.
"All kinds of information is circulating, and a lot of it does not add up.
"If she did travel to Finland, then she would absolutely have needed a passport. This would make tracing her journey relatively easy."
It has emerged Alex lived at a holiday cottage in France where he worked to earn his keep.
Frederic Hambye and Ingrid Beauve say he stayed at Gite de la Bastide in Camps-sur-l'Agly in the Aude region, but they knew him only as "Zach".
They have revealed he told them he wanted to "get back to a normal life" and needed a British ID, and had dreams of studying computer science.
But he left later to join his mother, who is believed to have joined a spiritual community.
Ms Batty had disappeared with Alex as they were on a trip to Spain on 2017.
Alex re-emerged last week as a delivery driver came across him in the Aude region.
He told the driver he had hiked for four days over the Pyrenees, having left his mother who he said wanted to go to Finland.
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.
Officers plan to interview Alex to find out what happened in the six years he went missing.
Greater Manchester Police's Assistant Chief Constable Matt Boyle said: "Speaking with him [Alex] at a pace that feels comfortable to him will ultimately determine how this case is progressed, and whether there is a criminal investigation to ensue.
"Our continued focus is supporting Alex and his family, in partnership with other local agencies - to ensure that they are safe, their wellbeing is looked after, and his re-integration with society is as easy as possible.
"We are yet to fully establish the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, but no matter what, we understand that this may be an overwhelming process.
"He may now be six years older than when he went missing, but he is still a young person."