Jay Slater's family make tragic Madeleine McCann comparison as they launch fresh search

Jay Slater with his mother Debbie Duncan
-Credit: (Image: Pixel8000)

The family of Jay Slater have expressed that they are "holding on to hope" for the teenager's safe return as they initiated another search yesterday. His father, Warren, and brother Zak were among a group of 10 volunteers who braved the mountainous terrain in Tenerife where the 19 year old vanished.

The team endured several hours in sweltering 25C heat as they scoured the valley near the village of Masca.

Glen Duncan, the young man's uncle, also joined the search for Jay, who has now been missing for almost three weeks. Describing each passing day as "just torture", he shared their agonising wait for any news.

He stated: "We've just been out with some Spanish volunteers. They've been through it by foot and the dogs, there's obviously been areas searched by helicopter and drones. For me, he's not up here. That's what I get the impression of."

Mr Duncan highlighted their limited interaction with local law enforcement: "Who knows what the police are doing out here, who knows? They're not really in touch, it's all a bit sketchy.

Jay Slater has been missing for over two weeks
Jay Slater has been missing for over two weeks -Credit:Family Handout/LBT Global/PA

"They don't give anything away. I was close to Jay. He was just a typical, great young lad with a massive circle of friends who loved the good time. He was looking forward to coming here. First lads holiday, we've all been there, haven't we? " as reported by the Mirror, reports the Manchester Evening News.

"We're still holding onto hope - we have to because we don't know. He's not been found so you've got to cling on. I'm sure Madeleine McCann's parents still cling onto that hope, that she's somewhere on the other side of the world 20 years later. She's never been found and there's no proof of whatever has happened to her. It's so treacherous down there. Look at the state of me. I'm not a climber, I'm not a hiker."

"It's so easy to get lost down there. There was a group of us and you can't see anybody. It got to a point where I wasn't even looking for my nephew, I was just trying to find my own way out to safety. If he has wandered off I just can't see how he would wander all the way down there. When you're lost you stick to a path. I don't know if he was afraid of someone or something."

Discussing about the online trolls spreading malicious rumours, Mr Duncan stated: "I'm not on social media or anything so I can just block it out. It's the world we live in. If he's gone on a trail like a path like this and he's got lost there or fallen down I think he would have been found by now. I've been thinking third party involvement from the start. There's just some things that have already been out there. Why would two lads hire a villa up here? They're down on the strip, you know what it's like down there."

"There's millions of apartments and hotels down there in Los Cristianos and Las Americas. Straight away, that's just suspicious in itself. Then apparently one who has been found came out and said he arrived alive and left alive. That line in itself is suspicious. The fact he has come out and said all his mates have left him and he had nowhere to go, he was 10 minutes from his apartment in Los Cristianos. He's not stupid. If he didn't have a room key he could have gone to reception for a replacement."

"I don't know what the police are taking seriously. I don't know if they're following up every single lead. I feel like marching down there myself and bursting into the police station. What are they actually doing now, the police, I mean they're not searching with the helicopter are they? Are they doing door to door inquiries or sitting there looking at CCTV images? ".

Mr Duncan also questioned why the two Airbnb men were ruled irrelevant by Spanish cops so early on: "It baffled me from day one. How can you say they have no relevance when they are two of the last people to see him alive. It doesn't make sense. I can't get my head around it. It's like if one of you guys going missing now and letting the rest of you fly home and say we're not bothered about it. It's a massive let down. It's one of them too - you don't want to give them a hammering. I can't step on their toes."

"We need to keep good relations. That's why it's just so awkward I want to keep it out there. There's 10 of us out today. I don't know how long we're going to be out here for. How long's a piece of string? Debbie and Warren won't be going anywhere."

Mr Duncan added: "Jay was a typical 19 year old lad, so family oriented. He was great with my two daughters which a lot of 19 year olds aren't. A lot of 19 year old lads shy away from children."

"It's just torture every day. It's got to a point now where the sadness has gone and it's just anger."

Mr Duncan also mentioned that there has been scant recent contact with Jay's friend Lucy Law - the last person known to have spoken to him. Rachel Hargreaves, a weary family friend, shared: "We're just looking for him, we can't find him, we can't find him. I'm here supporting the family, trying to find Jay the best we can."

Apprentice bricklayer Jay, hailing from Oswaldtwistle, Lancs, vanished on the Spanish island on June 17. His last known sighting was as he left an Airbnb near the village of Masca at about 8am.

The young man, who was vacationing with friends Lucy, aged 18, and Brad Hargreaves, 19, had earlier been enjoying himself at the Papagayo nightclub in Playa de las Americas. After the party, he departed with two British men to return to their accommodation.

In efforts to support Jay's family in their search, a GoFundMe page has been established and has since surpassed £50,000.

Jay's mate Brad has robustly refuted the online speculation, stating emphatically "we ain't drug mules". The group, which includes Jay and Lucy, were on the island for a three-day NRG music festival.

On Instagram, Brad made a statement to clear their names: "Thinkin' I'm involved in it all is beyond me. We've been mates for years, came on our first holiday together and unfortunately this has happened. We ain't drug mules or whatever.... people need to know the facts before talking s*** on the internet."

Lucy, who is believed to be the last person to have been in contact with Jay prior to his vanishing on June 17, shared a heartfelt post with a picture of them, adding a crying emoji. The Airbnb where Jay was last seen is linked to Ayub Qassim, a man with a history of drug convictions.

Qassim has defended himself, saying: "I let the geezer stay at mine because he had nowhere else to go. His friends had all left him. I know Jay, through friends, I'm not going to bring someone back to mine if I don't know them. I'm doing the geezer a favour and now my face is all over the news. It's a bit mental. I haven't even done anything."

He also commented: "The only comment I have to make is that Jay came to the house alive, and he left the house alive."

Despite a thorough search by Spanish authorities, the efforts to find Jay concluded last weekend after 14 days without success.