Admission now on record

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HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright says he is pleased he has got military police chiefs’ admission of failings into the original Katrice Lee investigation on public record.

Defence Minister Mark Francois has publicly acknowledged that the probe into the disappearance of the Hartlepool two-year-old from a NAAFI store on a British Army base, in Paderborn, Germany, in 1981, where her father was serving as a Sergeant Major, was “flawed”.

Mr Francois previously said the Royal Military Police (RMP) were doing all they could in the investigation when he addressed Mr Wright during a House of Commons debate attended by Katrice’s father Richard, 63, last month.

But Hansard, the official report of proceedings in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, now shows Mr Francois’ admission that the initial investigation into Katrice’s disappearance was flawed.

It came after Labour MP Mr Wright tabled a Parliamentary Question asking for Mr Francois to go on record with the admission which the family said was made during a private meeting between military police chiefs and Katrice’s mother Sharon, sister Natasha and their MP Caroline Dinenage.

Mr Francois’ written statement on Hansard says: “The Royal Military Police have now acknowledged that the previous investigations were flawed, and have sincerely apologised to Katrice’s family for these failings.

“The Royal Military Police have also undertaken, at an appropriate point, to ask an independent civilian police force to review their findings.”

Mr Wright’s question had asked for Mr Francois to address what the outcome of the meeting, at the RMP’s headquarters in Bulford, Wiltshire, was, what action points arose from the meeting and what admissions were made.

In addition to his statement about the admission of failings, Mr Francois said he will write to Mr Wright about the meeting.

Mr Wright told the Hartlepool Mail: “I’m pleased I have got it on Parliamentary record that word ‘flawed’ because that’s what Mr Lee has said for 31 years.

“My big fear was in the aftermath of the meeting, the RMP might backtrack and say ‘that was taken out of context’ and not acknowledged what was said.

“He said he acknowledged that the investigation was flawed and apologised.

“But there is still work to be done.”

Richard, from the Stockton Road area of town, who also received a letter of apology from military police chiefs this week, said: “The whole family feels vindicated because the military police just saw as always complaining.”