Detectives investigating the suspected murder of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence have travelled to Cyprus to speak to a man known by the 35-year-old who was in England on the day she vanished.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the six-month anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance, Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who is leading the enquiry, said a team of four officers arrived on the Mediterranean island earlier this week.

He said the officers would be speaking to about ten men in the Greek part of the island who Claudia had visited on four or five occasions in recent years, including one man who was in England on the day the University of York chef disappeared.

“That gentleman has been spoken to on the phone and he has given an account of his movements on March 18,” said Det Supt Galloway.

“This account has been corroborated by other information I have, but in order to definitely establish his movements to the level required on a murder investigation he needs to be spoken to face-to-face by the officers in Cyprus.”

Det Supt Galloway said police had been investigating Claudia’s link to Cyprus since they discovered early in the investigation that it was a man living on the island who sent the very last text to Claudia’s phone at 9.12pm on Wednesday, March 18.

“The text was asking her if she was still planning to come out to Cyprus soon,” said Det Supt Galloway. “It was non-descript and we have had straight forward cooperation with that man.

“However, over the past six months our enquiries have led to a broader knowledge of the fact that Claudia knew several people on the island of Cyprus, all of whom are British and most of whom work there.

“As a result of developing lines I now have a team of officers in Cyprus seeking to speak to and interview these people.

“Several of these people we have already contacted and they denied knowing Claudia or being in a relationship with her. I don’t believe this to be the truth.

“My concern is that we are constantly finding that the people we approach that we believe have been in a relationship with Claudia are reluctant and less than candid in disclosing their previous relationship with Claudia.

“All this does is inhibit and slow down the investigation.”

Det Supt Galloway said that on her last visit to Cyprus, it was thought Claudia, who lives alone in Heworth Road, York, had received job offers on the island.

“We still don’t know what has happened to Claudia,” he said. “She may be in Cyprus, but her passport is in her house and if she has gone to Cyprus she will have had to have gone by other means and there is nothing to suggest that this is the case.

“Despite all our enquiries to date, there is nothing to indicate that she is still alive. Claudia has missed key events for her family, such as Mother’s Day and family birthdays.

“It is unheard of that she would allow these important family occasions to pass without being in contact.”

If you have information to help find Claudia, phone North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 247 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.