Claudia Lawrence: Father of missing chef says it is 'dreadful' people may have lied to police – as officers carry out search of alleyway

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who is leading the inquiry, said he was sure people have lied to detectives

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The Independent Online

The father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has described it as "absolutely dreadful" that people may have lied to police investigating her disappearance, as officers today took part in a detailed search of an alleyway at the back of her home.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who is leading the inquiry, said he was sure his detectives had been lied to during the investigation, as the search of the alleyway got underway today.

Miss Lawrence was 35 when she went missing in March 2009 and her family are prearing to mark what would be her 41st birthday later this week.

She was last seen on Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, and her father Peter Lawrence reported her missing on Friday, 20 March, after she failed to turn up for her 6am shift at York University. Police believe she has been murdered.

Speaking today Mr Lawrence said he had heard the comments made by Det Supt Malyn.

He said: "I heard that and it's obviously absolutely dreadful that anyone would do that.

"We know that people lie to the police but in a case like this that involves Claudia's disappearance and everyone can see what it's done to the the family... come on."

North Yorkshire Police, who began reviewing the case in 2013, today cordoned off the alley behind the house as specialist officers carried out a fingertip search.

Det Supt Malyn, head of the force's major crime unit, said: "The review remains very active and the team are currently working on a lead that may indicate the alleyway at the rear of Claudia's house is significant.

"We still don't know if Claudia left for work on the morning of Thursday March 19 2009 or whether something happened overnight within her house. If the latter is the case, the person or persons responsible, in my view, would have used the rear alleyway as the front door leads on to a busy main road. This is why this specific piece of information needs to be fully investigated.

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"The activity today focuses on the alleyway with search-trained officers and a dog. Officers will be conducting house-to-house inquiries in the vicinity to jog people's memories about any vehicular access to the alleyway and how frequently this was used by neighbours or other pedestrians.

"This includes contacting people who have since moved away from the area to assist the investigation. We are also checking again that no CCTV recording equipment in the neighbourhood has been overlooked."

Following the start of the review in 2013, a 60-year-old man was arrested last year in connection with her disappearance and suspected murder but later released without charge.

A 47-year-old man remains on bail on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Det Supt Malyn said: "This is a very poignant week for Claudia's family and friends as they should be celebrating her 41st birthday on Friday, rather than marking another upsetting milestone since she disappeared almost six years ago.

"Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this difficult time and as we approach the sixth anniversary of the investigation next month."

Additional reporting by PA