Search for Claudia shifts to Cyprus

Detectives investigating the suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence have extended their hunt to Cyprus.

Six months after the chef went missing, police have conceded that they remain unable to explain what has happened to the 35-year-old from York.

At a news conference yesterday, Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who is leading the investigation, said that a team of officers from Yorkshire had travelled to the Mediterranean to interview people she had met during her travels there.

It was also disclosed that the last text message sent to her phone on the night of her disappearance in March this year had been from a man in Cyprus. Police have yet to recover her silver Samsung D900 phone and cannot be sure she ever read it.

Mr Galloway said it had become apparent that Ms Lawrence had known several expatriates living on the island, and she had been offered work there. He said the men were being treated as potential witnesses rather than suspects. The sender of the last text message had co-operated with police inquiries, he said.

"Some of the people that we have contacted have denied knowing Claudia or being in a relationship with her. I don't believe this to be true," said Mr Galloway. One Cypriot resident she knew had been in Britain at the time of her disappearance and had yet to fully establish his whereabouts with investigating officers.

While police knowledge of her "complex" private life was growing, it remained incomplete, he said. Some who knew her were "reluctant and less than candid", with one man admitting he was acquainted with her only after police visited him for a third time.

Mr Galloway said it was possible Ms Lawrence was in Cyprus. Her passport was left at home in Heworth, York, along with bank cards when she went missing.