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New searches after Claudia arrests

Published 22/04/2015

Claudia Lawrence was last seen in 2009
Claudia Lawrence was last seen in 2009

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of missing chef Claudia Lawrence, triggering a series of new police searches.

Police and forensic officers have been working at three houses not far from where Miss Lawrence lived in the Heworth area of York before she went missing six years ago.

North Yorkshire Police said the men who have been detained are in their 50s and from the York area.

It is understood they have not been arrested before and they remain in custody.

Miss Lawrence, who was 35 when she disappeared, was last seen on March 18, 2009.

She was reported missing by her father, Peter, after concerns were raised when she failed to turn up for her 6am shift at a University of York kitchen.

Police have said they believe she was murdered although no body has ever been discovered and officers stressed today that Miss Lawrence had not been found.

After years of detectives finding no significant leads, North Yorkshire Police decided to review the case in 2013 following the formation of a new major crime unit.

Since then, a team has carried out a number of searches, including a detailed re-examination of Miss Lawrence's home, in the Heworth area of York, and a fingertip search of an alleyway that leads to the rear of the house.

They have also issued previously unseen CCTV footage of two people walking near the house.

The officer leading the new inquiry, Det Supt Dai Malyn, issued a warning earlier this year that he believed people were lying to him and he would take action against them.

A York man in his 50s who was arrested on suspicion of Miss Lawrence's murder in March remains on police bail.

The new arrests, and the arrest in March, are understood to be linked to these new lines of inquiry.

A 60-year-old man was arrested last year in connection with her disappearance and suspected murder but was later released without charge.

And a 47-year-old man arrested last July on suspicion of perverting the course of justice has also been released with no further action taken.

Mr Malyn urged people not to identify the men who have been arrested to prevent the investigation being "compromised or potentially damaged in any way".

He said: "I urge everyone to again show restraint and patience while we carry out these very important enquiries. Your co-operation and support is greatly appreciated by the investigation team."

People living around the homes that are being searched said officers arrived just before 7am.

At the address nearest to Miss Lawrence home, uniformed police wearing face masks could be seen carrying out brown evidence bags.

At another property, forensics officers wearing white protective suits were clearly at work.

Each of the houses is under police guard.

Miss Lawrence's father, Peter Lawrence, has led a tireless campaign to find out what happened to his daughter.

His friend and spokesman, Martin Dales, said all new news is difficult for the family.

Speaking outside Miss Lawrence's house, Mr Dales said: "It's happened so many times over the years but it never gets any less to deal with. It's still an emotional shock."

He thanked members of the public for continuing to supply the police with information.

"The key message today is that police have made it quite clear that there are people lying to them.

"And it's those people who've just got to realise what it's like after all this length of time - family and friends waiting to find out what's happened and you've got that information and you're too selfish to give it, or you've got something to hide, or a skin to preserve."

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