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The BBC's Jon Brain
"Recorded in a hotel room in Manchester where the band are on tour"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 04:25 GMT 05:25 UK
Steps appeal for missing Sarah
Steps hope Sarah may hear their message
The pop group Steps have recorded a message for missing eight-year-old Sarah Payne in the hope that it may lift her spirits if she hears it.

All five members contributed to the message which sends Sarah - a huge Steps fan - their love and appeals for anyone with information to come forward.

The message, recorded at a hotel in Manchester where the band are touring, will be played on the television and radio in the hope that Sarah may be watching or listening.

Sarah Payne
Sarah has been missing for 11 days
Group member Claire Richards said: "If anyone out there knows anything or has seen anything, no matter how small, please contact the police."

Lisa Scott-Lee said: "You can call Sussex police on 0845 6070999."

Lee Latchford-Evans added his support saying: "Sarah everybody wants you to come home safe and well."

And Faye Tozer said: "Wherever you are we're all thinking of you and look forward to seeing you."

Reward offer

The Sun newspaper has offered a 50,000 reward for information leading directly to an arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Sarah's disappearance.

On Tuesday police issued an e-fit of a man seen at Knutsford services on the M6 with a girl matching Sarah's description, prompting more than 1,200 calls.

They have appealed for the man, or anyone who thought they recognised him, to contact them.

Motorway camera footage is being examined in the hunt for the man, and police emphasised they are still pursuing a missing persons inquiry for the schoolgirl.

Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo said: "The problem with him not coming forward means he remains a totally unanswered question."

Officers have received more than 5,000 calls and conducted more than 220 interviews during the inquiry. Sarah has now been missing for 11 days.

Helpline numbers
Sussex Police: 08456070999
National Missing Persons Helpline: 0500700700
Crimestoppers: 0800555111
She was last seen walking to her grandparents house in Ferring near Worthing, West Sussex.

The man sighted in Cheshire at 0500 BST on Sunday was white and well built, around six feet tall and about 30, with crinkly, sandy hair.

Mr Yeo said: "He may just simply not have seen the news, almost unbelievably as we may see it from this end."

He added: "It would seem strange that were he aware, that he hadn't come forward."

Mr Yeo also renewed appeals for information about a white van seen close to where Sarah went missing.

Malicious hoax

A 14-year-old youth is appearing in court after police officers hunting for Sarah responded to a malicious hoax call-out.

Mr Yeo said police had sadly received a small number of malicious calls amid thousands from people "desperately keen to help".

The e-fit
The witness says the e-fit is a "very good likeness"
He said: "We had one a couple of nights ago the result of which was the deployment of specialist search teams, detectives, uniformed officers, the police helicopter. It was totally malicious."

The caller - who rang police on Sunday night - directed officers to a location in the Littlehampton area.

Mr Yeo added: "For a little while it detracted police resources which could have been better used either on this inquiry or the generality of it."

Family's appeal

On Monday, members of Sarah's family joined Mr Yeo at a news conference to appeal for their daughter's safe return.

Sarah's mother, Sara Payne, clutched a white teddy bear, given to the family by police, which she said the family were keeping for Sarah to name when she came home.

"We are all determined, we are all strong for Sarah when she comes home," she said.

"Obviously it gets harder and harder every day. Every hour is harder than the last one."

Sarah was last seen wearing black shiny shoes with velcro fastenings and a dark blue Fred Perry-style tennis dress. Her hair is cut in a bob.

Two men arrested last week in connection with the inquiry have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | Scotland
'Sarah sighted in Scotland'
05 Jul 00 | UK
ID parade for missing Sarah
16 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Steps raise fans' spirits
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