A couple of weeks ago I was able to secure a debate in the House of Commons on the disappearance of Katrice Lee.
This week, the BBC programme Crimewatch featured the case, providing new computer-generated imagery of the crime scene in Germany and photographs enhanced through technology to show how Katrice might look now, some 31 years after she went missing.
It is every parent’s nightmare. You are in a crowded place with your kids: you turn your back for a moment and you get a sick feeling in the depth of your stomach when you realise you can’t see them. Most parents have gone through this: thank goodness the vast majority of times your children come back into view fairly quickly.
For Mr Lee and his family, that was tragically not the case. I mentioned in the House of Commons that that sick feeling has been part of Mr Lee for 31 years.
I also mentioned the facts of the case. Almost 31 years to the day, on November 28, 1981, Katrice and her mother were shopping in the NAAFI supermarket. It was Katrice’s second birthday, and the family were buying things like crisps for her party later in the day. Mrs Lee turned her back for a fleeting moment, and Katrice had vanished.
The focus of the debate was to highlight Mr Lee’s concerns over the manner in which the investigation was botched from the very start.
Because Katrice disappeared from an army base in Germany, as Mr Lee was a serving British soldier, valuable time was lost as organisations like the Royal Military Police and the German authorities bickered over who should lead the investigation.
I think the most shocking element of the original investigation was that the staff in the supermarket where Katrice went missing were not interviewed until a full six weeks after the event: that was after Christmas and into the New Year.
Over the years Mr Lee has not been helped by the ongoing mistakes made by the Royal Military Police.
I mentioned in Parliament how the family agreed to the RMP’s request to provide DNA as a means of checking against criminal or hospital records.
This was provided in 2001, 20 years after Katrice had vanished, but earlier this year the family were asked to provide samples again.
No adequate explanation has been provided, despite the family asking, as to what happened to the original DNA sampling. Was it used, lost or discarded?
I asked the Minister for several things. There needs to be an independent inquiry into the manner in which this botched investigation was dealt with.
A review of the Royal Military Police by the Royal Military Police is not robust enough.
Some access of the case files should be granted to the family, to allow them to suggest lines of inquiry or holes in the investigation that the Royal Military Police may have overlooked.
Finally, I asked the Minister to arrange a meeting between the family and the Prime Minister. Other families of missing children have met the Prime Minister, but not the Lee’s.
This seems unfair and I mentioned in Parliament how I wanted David Cameron and Mr Lee to meet father to father and for the PM to promise that all necessary resources of his government would be provided to help the family.
Mr Lee came to Parliament to hear what the Minister had to say. He went away disappointed.
But I will continue to press Ministers on this to ensure that we find out what happened to Katrice.