Jay Slater's family 'still going to keep searching' as TikToker calls efforts 'massive PR thing'

Jay Slater's family has said it is 'still going to keep searching' despite police announcing yesterday (Sunday) that they are halting efforts. The near-fortnight search of Tenerife for the missing Oswaldtwistle teen was declared a 'massive PR thing' by a TikTok star who went to the Spanish island to help, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Tenerife’s Civil Guard has been leading efforts to find the 19-year-old in a search that has involved sniffer dogs, a helicopter and mountain rescue experts. They said officers would continue to act on any tip-offs or other information that came in - but the active work that has been ongoing since June 17 when the apprentice bricklayer was reported missing would now cease.

The major change in the case came less than 24 hours after a final push operation. But hopes of hundreds out on the ground looking for Jay were dashed, as the operation involved around 30 police, firefighters, Civil Protection, and a handful of volunteers.

READ MORE: Jay Slater's loved ones say 'we're still going to keep searching' as police stop

READ MORE: Jay Slater missing: Tenerife cops were warned over number of disappearances before teen vanished

The Manchester Evening News understands that this was the largest, most obviously active search on the ground since Jay disappeared – even more so than the first, and most crucial, hours since he was reported missing. Some 13 days into the search, the Civil Guard held its first press conference ahead of the ‘massive search’, but the statements given by the leader of the Civil Guard’s mountain rescue efforts lacked detail.

When challenged about how 30 rescuers, and half a dozen volunteers, were going to search the massive search area of around 30km, the Civil Guard told reporters: "We have already spent days searching. The search we are going to do today is going to be around 30 people."

The mountainous Hilda outlook search area -Credit:Stan Kujawa
The mountainous Hilda outlook search area -Credit:Stan Kujawa

Cipriano Martin, head of the Civil Guard’s Greim mountain rescue unit, said from the search scene that the two men Jay spent time with at their rented Airbnb in Masca had been ruled out of the inquiry.

He said: “We’re mountain specialists and we’re in charge of searching here, and it’s the Civil Guard investigators who have been responsible for the investigation, those men have been spoken to and they don’t have any relevance whatsoever for the case.”

Asked to clarify his words later in the day a Civil Guard press officer said: “What he was saying was that the investigators have not found anything pointing to those two people being linked to the disappearance.”

A call to arms was put out to encourage emergency services to return to the search site, along with any experienced volunteers -Credit:Stan Kujawa
A call to arms was put out to encourage emergency services to return to the search site, along with any experienced volunteers -Credit:Stan Kujawa

The search also attracted criticism from volunteers giving their time and efforts in treacherous mountainside conditions to help find Jay. Climber and renowned TikTok creator Paul Arnott, from Bedfordshire, said he 'came straight out' after seeing Jay's family issue desperate appeals for assistance after he vanished.

Paul, 29, cancelled a charity fundraiser to spend hundreds of pounds on flying to the island and join in the search and rescue efforts on June 22. On Friday, he recorded a blistering TikTok video, calling the search a ‘massive PR thing’ – before efforts were cancelled just a day later.

He broke his silence after days of searching, telling his TikTok following on his account ‘downtherapids’: "So, guys, I've literally been waiting for absolutely ages now. This is a massive PR thing, I'm telling you now.

"I'm gonna ask him in a second to take my name off the list. I'm just gonna go down there and do my thing. I'm gonna do that now, I think.

"Because there's people everywhere. Literally people everywhere and nobody's doing anything.”

Paul Arnott spoke out about the search -Credit:Stan Kujawa
Paul Arnott spoke out about the search -Credit:Stan Kujawa

He then asked to be taken off the list of volunteers by the Spanish police, choosing instead to take action and carry out his own searches: "[Speaking to Spanish police] Hey, hey, guys, for the list, this thing, just cross out take my name off. Yeah, because I'm going here now. It's too busy. I wanna go search.

"I'm gonna search over here 'cause it's ridiculous. So, yeah, guys, I can't deal with this. This is absolutely mad. I've been up here for ages.

"Yeah, there's people everywhere. I'm just putting it how it is. Everyone is still in their cars.

"It's all a big thing. It's all chat, chat, chat, chat, chat. I'm putting it out there now.

"I'm sick of it. I'm so stressed out. I tell you what, I'm coming down here, I'm gonna go get some food 'cause my morning's already been wasted.

"And then I'm gonna crack on a search for Jay in the area where I think he is. I can't deal with this, guys. I've been so quiet about this now. I've been so quiet about this. Not doing it anymore, people. I'm sick of this c**p."

The Civil Guard has been approached for comment on Mr Arnott’s opinion. The videos have been viewed more than 500,000 times on TikTok.

Sunday's search continued to the source of tension, with Jay’s dad, Warren, and brother, Zak, coming up in the unforgiving heat to the mountainous Hilda outlook area – the epicentre of the search area overlooking the ravines which have been the focus for rescuers.

They took aim at online trollers, saying: “It’s a bit disappointing that there are no British apart from Paul [Arnott] but I suppose to them he’s just a British lad who’s come out here and got drunk,” said Warren.

“I’m grateful to those who have come out here because you can see just how dangerous it is and what gets me is the trollers who are having a go at us for not searching. It’s not the local park, these are big mountains, the terrain is dangerous, put yourself in our position. Would you go out in these conditions?

“It’s tough, it’s hard, we are leaving it to the professionals and I’m grateful for those who have turned out today and I want to thank them for what they are doing.”

Warren added: “We just still can’t believe it; it’s been so tough on us, and I want people to think about us as parents and what we are going through. All those trollers having a go at us, they don’t know how we feel, why don’t they come up here and have a look and see for themselves how dangerous it is.

“I’ve come up here now myself because I wanted to have a look about with Zak and to thank those who are up here and have given their time. I just didn’t think this would go on for so long, I dropped his mum and brother off at the airport and thought they would be back in a few days. I just thought he’s gone out had a drink and ended up at some girl’s place as we all did when we were younger, he’s our youngest I just want him home.”

Friday's searches yielded no results, the M.E.N. understands, so the search was called off. The parallel investigation is still ongoing, and police are not discussing what they are doing there. Jay's disappearance isn't necessarily crime-related, the M.E.N. understands, but the Civil Guard has said from the beginning of the search that they're keeping all options open.

A Civil Guard spokeswoman said: “The search operation has now finished although the case remains open.”

The Civil Guard declined to say whether it was actively investigating whether Jay’s disappearance was linked to an altercation outside a club.

The incident supposedly took place in the southern Tenerife resort of Los Cristianos after a wealthy Eastern European man had his designer watch stolen. One of Jay’s friends has reportedly told the police the watch theft could be linked to the teenager going missing.

The police force has consistently said "nothing has been ruled out" but continues to define Jay's case as a missing persons inquiry and not a criminal probe.

One thing did, however, become clear this afternoon. Jay’s loved ones refuse to give up.

In the face of online abuse and waning hope, they are resolved to keep up the search.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, friend of the family Rachel Hargreaves said that those who had flown out to help in the search were 'still going to keep searching'.

Ms Hargreaves is the mum of Brad Hargreaves, a close friend who was partying with Jay at the three-day NRG festival in Tenerife before Jay's disappearance. She flew out, along with other friends and family, to support the Jay's family, including mum, Debbie, dad, Warren, and Jay's brother, Zak.

Ms Hargreaves made it clear on behalf of those who have flown out here, they will not abandon Jay, telling the M.E.N.: "We will be staying out here and doing all we can to find Jay."