Nick Clegg has had to share the headlines this week with one Megan Stammers, a 15-year old girl who ran away to France with her 30-year old Maths teacher. After eluding the suthorities for several days, they were tracked down to Bordeaux where they were apprehended. He is now under arrest facing charges of child abduction and she is on her way back to her family in England.
Much jollification and relief on all sides - the ever fatuous Sun sent people to France with "Wanted" posters and much self-righteous indignation was expressed.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong but if Megan had been 25 and he had been 40, no one would have said a word or batted an eyelid. I consider it entirely possible not only that Megan knows her own mind and wants to be with him but that he wants to be with her. The ever-unhelpful Daily Mail has tracked down his ex-wife and indulged in its usual sanctimonious moralising.
What we don't know is whether the couple's feelings are genuine. Let's assume they are - the fact that Megan is a few months away from being able to make decisions for herself under the law is just a legal niceity. There are many mature and sensible 15-year olds, there are many immature 25-year olds. I don't see why, if Megan and her teacher love each other, they shouldn't be allowed to live their lives in peace and their love should be respected.
It may not last but then there are no guarantees with love. The only thing you can rely on where a young girl is concerned is the self-righteous behaviour of the right-wing media.