Family refused access to Katrice files

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A DAD has spoken of his despair after hearing the Government will not release case files on the 30-year-old disappearance of his daughter.

Hartlepool man Richie Lee spoke out after a Government minister revealed Richie would not be allowed access to documents on the investigation of the disappearance of his daughter Katrice.

Richard Lee with a photograph of his daughter Katrice. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. D22445

Richard Lee with a photograph of his daughter Katrice. Picture by LOUISE HUTCHINSON. D22445

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright asked a Parliamentary question as to whether the Lee family would be entitled to access the files.

Mr Wright received a response from Peter Luff, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Defence, Support and Technology, saying releasing the files could prejudice the investigation and any subsequent trial.

Richie, 62, said: “Realistically it’s an answer I expected.

“I’m really saddened, but it was no surprise.”

Richie said he will meet with Mr Wright today to discuss the next step in the battle to get answers.

“I’m not prepared to let this go now,” added the retired postman, who was a Sergeant Major when Katrice went missing from a NAAFI supermarket in Paderborn in Germany on November 28, 1981, on her second birthday.

Richie, who previously said he could not see why the family of missing girl Madeleine McCann had accessed their files but he could not, added: “If I’ve got to, I will take this as high as I can.”

Mr Wright said: “Mr Lee is naturally disappointed with the response.

“It’s a question now of sitting down and finding out what could be the next step to help Mr Lee as much as possible.”

Mr Luff said: “The investigation into Katrice Lee’s disappearance remains open and disclosure of the case files, even to a family member, could have a prejudicial effect on the investigation or any subsequent trial.

“The Ministry of Defence also has a duty to protect an individual’s personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998 and disclosure of case documents could represent a breach of confidence where the information was provided for the purpose of a police investigation.”

More than 900 people have signed a petition to release the case files.

It can be found at www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and select the link at the bottom of this story.

l Meanwhile, Mr Wright has described his frustration that Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, refused his request for a debate on unemployment in the North-East yesterday.

He said Government policies were making unemployment matters worse, which was disputed by Sir George.