MISSING chef Claudia Lawrence may have met a new boyfriend only days before she vanished, it can be revealed today.

Police said a colleague came forward yesterday, on the eve of the first anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance, to tell them she had been out with a boyfriend until about 5am on Tuesday, March 17.

Officers also revealed for the first time that the 36-year-old was in a casual relationship with a man from York, rather than being entirely single.

They are now urgently investigating whether the casual boyfriend, who is known to the police, is the man she was out with two days before she disappeared.

However, they believe it is unlikely this is the case and want to hear from anyone who was with Claudia that night.

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who is leading the investigation, said: “No man has come forward to say he was out with Claudia that night and it is absolutely critical that we find that person.

“If that person is listening please come forward.

“There is nothing suspicious, we just need to eliminate that person from the investigation.”

Det Supt Galloway said Claudia’s colleague had decided to give the police this information after watching the recent appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch.

He said: “He had been reviewing how he could help the investigation on the first anniversary and he remembered this piece of information.

“He is a person known to the investigation from the outset. It is information he has decided to impart today. I don’t criticise him but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t find it very frustrating.”

Det Supt Galloway said Claudia’s casual boyfriend, who she had been seeing for several months, had another long-term partner and had not been definitively eliminated from the inquiry.

He said he still needed to know what Claudia had done after speaking to her mother on the phone at about 8.20pm on Wednesday, March 18.

It was the last time anybody is known to have spoken to her. The following morning she failed to turn up to work for her 6am shift at the University of York.

He said: “You would think that because she was getting up early for work she would have gone to bed early on the Wednesday, but she was on an early shift on the Tuesday too and we now know she didn’t go to bed early then.

“Her text traffic generally finished at nine or half past nine because she was going to bed and it did on that Wednesday night.

“Claudia is a striking individual. She is a beautiful woman. If you saw her in a pub you would notice and if you did see her we need to know.”

He said that one year into the inquiry, the hunt continued. “We haven’t given up hope that Claudia is alive,” he said.

“However, my professional judgement is that she has come to harm. We will continue for as long as there is a determined and positive line of inquiry to pursue.”

To mark the anniversary, police have produced a video appealing for information that can be downloaded on YouTube or at northyorkshire.police.uk/claudia

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

Focus on probe statistics

• Number of calls to the incident room and Crimewatch studio: 1,270

• Cost of the investigation, as of February 28: £615,000

• Number of statements from members of the public and police officers’ reports: 2,797

• Number of officers and staff working on the investigation today: 20 to 30

• Number of officers and staff working on the investigation at the height of the inquiry: 100

• Countries visited by officers: Cyprus and Republic of Ireland

• Number of properties searched: More than 1,300. This includes 1,000 university rooms in halls of residence.