The Acomb pub landlord Paul Harris speaks out over Claudia Lawrence arrest

Paul Harris, landlord of The Acomb pub

The police presence at The Acomb, the pub run by Paul Harris, on Wednesday

First published in News
Last updated
York Press: Photograph of the Author by

THE YORK pub landlord arrested as part of the Claudia Lawrence investigation has told how his life was dramatically turned upside down.

Paul Harris, 46, who runs The Acomb in Kingsway West, was arrested on Wednesday and detectives spent most of the day at his pub.

Forensic experts and dog teams searched the building, removing items and digging up a section of the cellar.

Mr Harris was arrested at home on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and had to shout to his wife, who was still in bed, to explain what was happening. He was released on bail later that evening, but only after speculation on social media sites about the reason for his arrest.

He said: “They have given me no inventory of what was taken, left my pub with holes in the cellar floor and no information about how it’s going to be repaired.

“They dug up six inches of concrete, three foot by three foot. This was more than 20 years old, at least. If they can’t determine the difference between new and old concrete, maybe they shouldn’t be detectives.

“They have realised it was only a repair from 20 years ago and left it alone.”

Mr Harris said Claudia had been in The Acomb with a friend some weeks before her disappearance, and he remembered speaking briefly to her that night.

Mr Harris was one of many people around York who were questioned by police during the initial investigation into Claudia’s disappearance in 2009, and said he voluntarily gave over his phone and a DNA sample to police at the time.

He said the closure of the pub on one of the hottest days of the year would have lost him upwards of £1,500 in trade, but he was more concerned about the effects on his children, aged 13 and 15, who he said had been left distraught by the searches and media attention.

He said: “The worst thing about it was my kids were in tears yesterday and social media site trolls are crucifying me.

“People are saying horrible things about me on social media and I know it will leave me, my reputation and my pub tainted.

“The children have taken it very badly.

“They were both in tears, they’ve got friends texting them asking ‘did your dad kill Claudia Lawrence’?”

In May, police arrested a 59-year-old man on suspicion of Claudia’s murder, and searched a house in Burnholme in connection with the investigation. He remains on bail.

Mr Harris said: “I don’t condemn them for bringing me in for questioning at all, but it’s the way they have gone about it.

“ I’m absolutely positive there will be no charges brought.”

North Yorkshire Police said they would not comment on the matter.

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