THE detective who has led one of North Yorkshire’s most perplexing murder investigations was today retiring from the force.

Det Supt Ray Galloway has been leading the hunt for missing York chef Claudia Lawrence since she vanished on March 18, 2009, aged 35, after failing to arrive for her 6am shift at the University of York.

The case is being treated as suspected murder, and is one of the biggest investigations carried out by North Yorkshire Police.

Mr Galloway, who previously told The Press he “never imagined” the Claudia case would still not be resolved all these years on, has said the core team of officers who have worked on the investigation will carry on.

He is confident the team will find out what happened to Claudia, saying it was his “fervent wish” to bring some comfort to her family who still wait desperately for answers.

Mr Galloway, who has been with the North Yorkshire force since 2006, having worked the previous 24 years with Merseyside Police, paid tribute to the officers working on the investigation.

He said: “For all of us, the investigation became more than a professional function, it was a personal commitment to find out who was responsible for Claudia’s disappearance, and, notwithstanding my retirement, that commitment will sustain.

“The investigation will always remain with me and I am confident that, in the future, a positive resolution will be achieved.

“That is my fervent wish as it will help to bring some comfort to Claudia’s family, all of whom will remain very much in my thoughts.”

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal has vowed the force will maintain its efforts to hunt down Claudia’s killer.

He said: “North Yorkshire Police have a dedicated and committed workforce who are determined to find out what has happened to Claudia.

“As with all cases, when an officer retires or leaves the force, consistency and continuity is a priority and the plans we have in place will ensure this.”

Mr Galloway’s responsibilities at North Yorkshire Police included the investigation of murders and serious crime, heading up the organised crime unit, undercover investigations, Special Branch, counter terrorism, surveillance and the reviews of major crimes.

He joined Merseyside Police as a cadet in 1980 and became a constable in Liverpool two years later.

He joined the CID in 1986 and rose to become a senior investigating officer and a hostage negotiator.