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Man arrested over suspected murder of missing Claudia

By Jonathan Brown

Detectives investigating the suspected murder of the missing chef Claudia Lawrence have arrested a former university colleague in connection with her disappearance.

The 59-year-old man, named locally as Michael Snelling, was until recently employed as a lab technician in the biology department at the University of York, where Ms Lawrence also worked until March 2009.

It is the first arrest in connection with the long-running murder investigation and follows a major forensic review of the case and the disclosure of several new leads on BBC's Crimewatch to mark the fifth anniversary of her disappearance. Police stressed that Ms Lawrence's remains had not been discovered and said they could not rule out further arrests.

Forensic teams last night boarded up Mr Snelling's run-down, semi-detached property where they had spent much of the day searching the house and garden. It is less than a mile away from where the 35-year-old Ms Lawrence lived alone in the Heworth area of the city. A blue Ford Focus car was seized whilst a number of items including bags and what looked like material were taken away for examination.

A further search was carried out in premises in North Shields on Tyneside, where it is understood the arrest was made. The premises are believed to have belonged to Mr Snelling's mother.

Police refused to confirm reports that the man had been questioned previously by the inquiry that at its height involved more than 100 detectives.

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