THE detective leading the Claudia Lawrence investigation has said: "I know people have lied to us."

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn led officers who searched an alleyway behind the missing York chef's Heworth home on Wednesday. He said he was determined to find out what had happened to Claudia and was confident their current lines of inquiry would lead to potential arrests.

York Press:

The University of York chef has not been seen since March 18, 2009. She failed to turn up for work the next morning and yesterday's search was related to a theory that someone may have been in her house overnight and left by the back door on March 19.

Claudia's mother Joan Lawrence said she did not know how anyone who had withheld information could live with themselves, knowing they were putting her family through pain.

Det Supt Malyn said he was "convinced" people who had been involved in the investigation had lied to police, and urged anyone with information to come forward.

He said: "I don't think everyone's been completely honest to us. I firmly believe that there are people close to Claudia who have got information that out of whatever loyalty or fear they have not completely shared with us. It's never too late.

York Press:

Officers search behind Claudia Lawrence's house today

"I am convinced and I know people have lied to us. I hope they realise the pain the family is going through. We are making progress and the opportunity is still there for them to come forward with information - we will deal with them sensitively."

Joan Lawrence said she was unhappy to hear people had lied to the investigation, and still had faith in Det Supt Malyn and North Yorkshire Police.

She said: "I don't know how these people live with themselves. How could someone lie with that information for six years and keep it to themselves for six years. How can they do that to us?

York Press: Joan Lawrence, mother of Claudia Lawrence

Joan Lawrence, pictured in 2014

"I just don't know what would come about after six years and with the weather we've had, how they would find anything in the alleyway that would be significant, but the equipment they have gets better every six months, they tell me, so we just don't know."

Peter Lawrence, Claudia's father, said: "If people lie about something like this, which is so serious, and they can see how it's affected my family, I think that's appalling.

"It's time they examined their conscience. You know how this is affecting not just me, but also Claudia's mum and sister. Just put things right, for our sake."

York Press:

A police dog-handler in Heworth today

Throughout Wednesday morning, officers carried out a fingertip search of a section of the alleyway, and a sniffer dog was also used at the scene. House-to-house enquiries were made, and police are contacting former residents of the area.

Det Supt Malyn said "we have not got time for gimmicks", and said the alleyway search could still bring leads for the investigation.

York Press:

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn talking to journalists behind Claudia's house today

He said: "It's an extremely challenging investigation, I have never known anything like it, but I'm determined to resolve it.

"Of course we will be releasing stuff towards the anniversary of Claudia's disappearance. I'm confident if we keep this investigation live, keep the momentum going, we will get answers for the family. It has been searched before but there's nothing lost by revisiting."

The search took place just days before Claudia's 41st birthday, and Det Supt Malyn said the alleyway had been searched by the original investigators more than five years ago, after she failed to arrive for a morning shift at the University of York.

York Press:

Officers in the alleyway today

But just as a new search of Claudia's house had previously yielded new evidence Det Supt Malyn hoped today's operation would bring fresh leads for the investigation.

He said: "There are always opportunities from revisiting as we did with the house. I'm hopeful as always that we will find something in the alleyway and unless we try we will never know.

"We are relentlessly pursuing lines of inquiry and we have got to make opportunities for ourselves."

He added: "As long as we keep it fresh through this type of work I’m convinced somebody will come forward. I’m confident the lines of enquiry we have at the moment will lead to potential arrests but obviously we have to have the legal basis and consider proportionality."

Last year, police released a series of new leads and appeals for information, and arrested two men. A 60-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of Claudia's murder and later released from bail. A 47-year-old man arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice remains on police bail.

York Press:

Neil Olsen, whose home backs onto the alleyway, has lived there for more than ten years and said he hoped the search would prove useful.

He said: "It was frightening when it first went on, but I haven't had any contact from police ahead of these searches.

"I think it's good that they keep the investigation going and they are still searching. I think it's very hard to say whether they will find anything of use in the area, but it's probably an exercise worth carrying out."

Can you help?

  • Anyone with information on Claudia's disappearance should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.