A MAN has been arrested today by detectives investigating the disappearance of York chef Claudia Lawrence.

The 46-year-old from the York area was arrested on suspicion of perverting  the course of justice but has tonight been bailed as police investigations continue.

He was being interviewed in custody while searches and forensic enquiries are conducted at The Acomb pub in Kingsway West.

North Yorkshire Police said today the investigation was "very much active" and said there was a possibility of further arrests.

About eight police vehicles with officers, including scenes of crime and dog handlers, have been at the scene in Kingsway since about 8am today.

Shortly before 6pm the sound of pneumatic drilling could be heard coming from the pub.  By 8.30pm search teams had left the site, leaving members of police to stand guard at a cordon around the property.

Officers searched the Coral bookmakers next to the pub, and at about 3.25pm removed a number of items from the pub. 

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SEARCHES: Forensics officers behind the pub

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SEARCHES: The bookmaker's next to the pub

Martin Dales, spokesman for Claudia's father, Peter Lawrence, said this afternoon: “Peter remains very grateful for all the hard work that North Yorkshire Police are continuing to put in to finding Claudia.

"It is to be hoped that this is another vital piece in the jigsaw of information that needs to come in to the police: it is much better if people volunteer information than wasting valuable police time in them having to find it out for themselves and then come looking for people.”

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Above and below: Items are removed from the pub

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Earlier on Twitter, the York West police team said: "We are dealing with an ongoing incident at the Acomb Hotel, Kingsway West. Updates will follow when we can."

Claudia had drunk at The Acomb with a friend in the weeks before she disappeared, the book Gone by Neil Root outlines, and a national newspaper story in 2009 quoted landlord Paul Harris as saying police had visited the pub to ask questions. 

In March, as part of a Crimewatch appeal, Det Supt Dai Malyn said analysis of Claudia's mobile phone, particularly cell site activity, showed she was in the Acomb area in the weeks leading up to her disappearance.

He said at the time: "We believe she may have been socialising with a person or persons. Again, we would like to know who this was and where it was taking place."

Most police at the scene today are from North Yorkshire Police but one van from Durham Police has also arrived at the scene, and officers with dogs and hammer equipment have gone into the pub.

The whole pub is cordoned off and police remain at the scene.

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One local resident said: "I was on my way to work at 8am and there was one police car here. When I came back a couple of hours later there were vans, dogs and police in CSI suits."

Another local resident said police were "swarming" around the area shortly after 8am.


>> Mar 2009 - Claudia goes missing

>> May 2009 - Crimewatch films reconstruction

>> Sep 2009 - Hunt moves to Cyprus 

>> Mar 2010 - New lead on anniversary

Claudia Lawrence was last seen on CCTV on March 18, 2009.

She failed to arrive for her morning shift as a chef at the University of York the following day, sparking a huge police search.

In May, a 59-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Claudia Lawrence. He was rebailed in June.

North Yorkshire Police searched the York home of the man for several days in May, following his arrest.  


>> Apr 2011 - Hoaxer jailed

>> Jul 2010 - Amsterdam claim probed

>> Sep 2013 - Man reported for harassment

>> Oct 2013 - New forensic search at Claudia's house

Speaking today, Martin Hill, 54, of Tudor Road, told The Press: "I went to bed about 1am and there was nothing going on and when I woke up at 10am I opened my curtains and saw police cars and vans everywhere.

"I have lived here for 13 years and you get the occasional noisy night, but there's never been any major trouble in the pub. I have never seen this much activity outside the pub before so it was quite surprising."

Sheila Overall, 54, a grandmother of four, also of Tudor Road, said: "We got up about 8am and the police were everywhere. I was up and down through the night, but I never heard anything.

"We get a lot of police around this area and there's usually something going off down the street, but I didn't expect this.

"When you see police about you think it must be serious."

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>> 19 Mar 2014 - Police reveal new leads

>> 20 Mar 2014 - Mystery men were seen at her door

>> 17 Apr 2014 - New info being analysed

Allan Watson, 30, from Acomb, said: "Ten years ago this was a very rough pub but it is a nice family place now and it's quite horrible to think what might have happened."

Mandy Hughes, 42, of St Stephen's Road in Acomb, said: "It's shocking to see this amount of police in your area and it's horrible to think about what's happening. There's not a lot of trouble in this pub so I do not know what has been going on." 

Carla Dundas, 28, also of St Stephen's Road, said: "By the look of things, it is not a normal police incident as there are so many police cars here. I don't know what to believe. Seeing all the vans around here is not good."

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Francesco Stadone, 70, pictured above, said: "I am a regular in the pub and cannot believe what's happening. It's a total shock to me and it's unbelievable. I heard about the link to Claudia Lawrence earlier and could not believe what I was hearing."

Frank Nellis, 24, from Lytham Court in Acomb said: "I drink in there every Thursday and play for the darts team and it's so strange to see all the police and TV cameras here when you go in there regularly. It's a decent pub and I never thought I'd see so much police activity here."

Karl McGuire, 30, from Acomb, said: "It's surprising that anything has happened here nevermind this because the only thing that I ever hear from the pub is loud music.

"We have been in there before and people always tell you how well the pub is doing and there's a lot of nice things going on in there."

Yilmaz Kavak, 27, who works at the Belly Buster Takeaway, on Green Lane, said: "We are all worrying about what has happened but I hope they find something.

"I hope something happens, but if it does it is not good for Acomb and the end of another business.

"She's been gone for a long time but at least the police are doing something.

"She's been missing ever since I started working here a year ago and this news is hard to take."

Victor Overall, who has lived opposite the pub for 20 years, said: "It is very close to home and a massive shock."

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Les Briddon, 47, pictured above, also of Acomb, said: "I never expected there to be a connection between Claudia Lawrence and Acomb. It's a bit weird it being this side of York, compared to where she lived."

The £10,000 Crimestoppers reward remains available for anyone who privides information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Claudia’s disappearance, police said today.

Anyone with information is urged to phone police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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Story first published: 11.35am, Wednesday 23 July 2014