Police drain lake in search for missing university chef

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Police have drained a lake as part of the investigation into the disappearance of university chef Claudia Lawrence.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that the pond at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits had been drained and that searches at the site may last a number of days.

Detectives believe Ms Lawrence – who lived in the Heworth area of York and worked at York University – was murdered, although no body has ever been found.

The 35 year-old was last seen on March 18 2009.

Officers have conducted two investigations and questioned nine people in relation to her disappearance and suspected murder, but no charges have ever been brought.

Missing chef
Police officers searching the land at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York in connection with the disappearance of missing university chef Claudia Lawrence (Mark Brickerdike/PA)

North Yorkshire Police said the investigation team were managing inquiries in relation to “a number of emerging lines of investigation”.

Pictures and video put out by the force showed teams officers searching the undergrowth with sticks in an area of woodland near to the scene.

Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox said: “I thank the public for the positive responses and new information received in support of the current phase of the investigation.

“Our focus is on finding Claudia and bringing those responsible for her disappearance and suspected murder to justice.”

A statement put out by the force said: “North Yorkshire Police can confirm that a pond at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits has been drained as part of the ongoing investigation into the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence.

“Officers remain at the site and the searches that began last week are continuing and we expect to be at the site for a number of days.”

Last week Mr Fox thanked the public for the positive responses and information received in support of the current phase of the investigation.

He did not disclose what information prompted the search activity 12 years after Ms Lawrence went missing.

Claudia’s Law
Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter, died earlier this year without knowing what happened to his daughter (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms Lawrence’s mother, Joan, said the new searches had left her in “utter shock”.

She told reporters she was “very, very churned up” about the latest developments in the investigation.

Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter, died earlier this year without knowing what happened to his daughter.

He had campaigned tirelessly to get answers to the puzzle of her disappearance and spent years arguing for what became the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill – also known as Claudia’s Law – which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.

Martin Dales, a friend of Mr Lawrence, said this was the first development in the case since his death, and described the situation as “bittersweet”.

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