Police searching for Claudia Lawrence have released CCTV footage of a man acting suspiciously near the missing York chef's home the morning she failed to turn up at work.

The images show a man going to the rear of the terrace, where the 35-year-old lives, in Heworth Road, York, before returning to the front of the property at about 5.50am on Thursday, March 19.

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who is leading the investigation, said that despite thorough police inquiries the man’s identity remains unknown.

“This man is somebody who was there at ten to six on the morning we expected Claudia to be at work at 6am,” he said.

“What was he doing acting in a strange way at that particular time? It might be completely innocent, but when people don’t come forward with an innocent explanation, it amplifies my suspicions.

“I would appeal for that man to come forward, or anybody who knows who he was.”

The footage shows the man in Lime Court, which is off Heworth Road.

He is seen to walk from Heworth Road towards the rear of the terrace in which Claudia's house is located. He disappears from view for 50 seconds, then reappears and walks back on to Heworth Road.

Det Supt Galloway said the same CCTV camera captured another man walking along the opposite side of Heworth Road at the time the first man disappeared from view behind the terraced houses where Claudia lives.

He said he wanted to speak to this man, as he could be a possible witness.

He was wearing a light-coloured top and carrying a light-coloured item, which could possibly be a bag or a newspaper.

He was also picked up on CCTV a few minutes later walking past the Costcutter shop, in Heworth Road, which is at the junction with East Parade and Dale's Lane.

Det Supt Galloway said: “I am hoping that the two people featured in the CCTV footage will come forward as a matter of urgency to help the investigation.

“I need to ask these two men if they recall seeing anything unusual or suspicious that morning, or even if they possibly saw a woman matching Claudia's description or any other person who was out and about at that early time of day.”

Claudia was last seen on Wednesday, March 18, and failed to arrive for her 6am shift at the University of York's Roger Kirk Centre the following day.

North Yorkshire Police are treating the case as suspected murder and Crimestoppers has offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

If you can help the investigation, please call North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 24 7 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.