The mother of missing Irish teenager Amy Fitzpatrick is aware that an Englishwoman wrote to the Irish ambassador in Spain in 2005 pleading with the authorities to take the child into care as her home was "not a safe place".
Audrey Fitzpatrick said there was no substance to this woman's allegations but confirmed that Amy did stay occasionally at the woman's home in Spain as she was a friend of her daughter's.
Amy Fitzpatrick disappeared at age 15 on New Year's Day 2008 after she walked to her home in Mijas, southern Spain, along an unlit path she used as a shortcut, according to Spanish police.
In the letter to the Irish ambassador in Malaga on 9 May 2005, seen by the Sunday Tribune, the Englishwoman said Amy was "permanently abandoned" by her mother and her mother's boyfriend, Dave Mahon, and their home was "not a safe environment" for the then 13-year-old. She wrote that she was now looking after the teenager for her own safety and appealed for Amy to be returned to Ireland to live with her father Christopher in Dublin.
In response to these allegations, Audrey Fitzpatrick told the Sunday Tribune: "As far as we know, it was an Englishwoman who sent the letter. There is no substance to what she has said; possibly she did it for money. She said she wanted to adopt Amy. Amy stayed with her for a few days. I had to get social services and the police involved to get her back. I'm not making an issue of the fact that this woman is English. We have a lot of English friends living in this area."
She added that she has never seen the letter. She believes the police made contact with this woman after her daughter disappeared. The woman and her family have since returned to live in Britain. A copy of the letter was also faxed to Amy's father Christopher in Dublin.
Liam Brady, a private investigator hired by Amy's father to probe her disappearance, has called for an investigation by the Spanish authorities into the teenager's lifestyle in Spain. Her mother has said she was not attending school at the time of her disappearance.
Brady said there have been developments within the past week with his investigation after he received separate pieces of confidential information concerning Amy's disappearance. The private investigator has also claimed the Spanish police's assertion that she went missing on New Year's Day 2008 is at odds with witnesses who saw her socialising later that night in a nearby town.
Amy's 18th birthday will be marked by her family in two weeks' time on 7 February. Her mother said she was considering various ways of highlighting her daughter's birthday to raise the public profile of their campaign to find the teenager.