A BODY has been found submerged in mud beside the River Ouse on the outskirts of York.

The grim discovery was made at about 11am yesterday by a member of the public walking along the side of the river.

Police spent much of the day trying to recover the body but were hampered by the conditions and are not yet able to say whether the body is of a man or woman.

Police said the relatives of several missing people had been informed of the discovery, as was routine, including the families of missing University of York chef Claudia Lawrence and 29-year-old Chris Baker, who went missing on December 20.

Speaking at the scene yesterday, Detective Inspector Ian Dyer, said: “A member of the public has found what we believe to be a body by the side of the river. We don’t know whether it’s male or female or if the person went into the river.

"At this moment we are trying to recover the body but there is no reason to believe there has been anything suspicious.”

Det Insp Dyer said police would work to identify the body but The Press has been told that could take several days.

The person was found on the Naburn side of the river, yards up stream from The Ship Inn. The area has been badly hit by weeks of rainfall and flooding and the bank had been left extremely muddy.

One resident, whose house is close to the river, said: “Normally it’s a nice dog walk round there but it’s actually been quite dangerous with the mud.”

Police, including specialist underwater teams, have been searching the Ouse in recent weeks for Mr Baker, who moved from South Wales to York six months ago with his wife Megan, but they have struggled due to high water levels.

Mr Baker, of Albemarle Road, abandoned his car near Skeldergate Bridge on the morning of December 20, while driving to work in Hull, and was seen jumping over the wall beside the bridge.

There have been a number of appeals in recent weeks for information and last week, his boss at the City Healthcare Partnership at Hull Royal Infirmary described Mr Baker as a "valuable and well-liked member of the corporate team".

Mr Burnell said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time and we will continue to hope for his safe return."