Missing chef - appeal to trace bus passenger

Detectives searching for missing chef Claudia Lawrence today released images of a man they want to talk to who was seen getting on a bus near her home.

Officers said the man was seen boarding a service in York early on the morning of 19 March - the day after Miss Lawrence was last seen or had any contact with her friends and family.

One theory about what happened to the 35-year-old is that she could have been attacked or abducted as she walked to her workplace in a kitchen at York University on that morning.

The description police have issued of the man getting on the bus has striking similarities with the description of someone else police want to speak to, especially as he appears to be left-handed.

The man featured in the pictures released today was seen getting on a Coastliner bus at 5.39am on East Parade, just around the corner from Miss Lawrence's York home.

He bought a single ticket to Leeds but his journey would have taken him along the chef's route to work.

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who is leading the inquiry, said: "Our efforts to identify the man have been unsuccessful and we are now appealing to anyone who recognises him from the CCTV images to get in touch.

"Or better still, if the man recognises himself, we appeal to him to contact us as he could have important information which could assist the investigation."

Mr Galloway said the man was wearing a dark-coloured jacket with what appears to be a lighter coloured hoodie top underneath. He was also wearing blue jeans and had short, mid-brown hair.

He appeared to be of slim build and was carrying a brown-coloured bag.

Police have also stressed the man paid for his fare with his left hand.

Previously, police have released details of another man they want to talk to who they believe is left handed.

A cyclist came forward to tell officers they had seen a man and woman on Melrosegate Bridge, in York, at around 5.35am on 19 March. This man was described at the time as around 5ft 6in tall, of thin build and was wearing a dark-coloured hooded top with the hood up and dark combat trousers with pockets on the side.

Detectives said he was smoking a cigarette which he was holding in his left hand, suggesting he was left-handed.

Today's appeal follows a series North Yorkshire Police have made relating to men they want to talk who were spotted by members of the public on the early morning of 19 March.

Miss Lawrence was last see near her home on Heworth Road, in York, on Wednesday 18 March. She spoke to both her parents on the phone that evening but failed to turn up for work the next day.

Her father, solicitor Peter Lawrence, has mounted a relentless campaign to try and find his daughter.

But detectives have said they believe Miss Lawrence has probably come to harm.