Commons to debate Katrice case

VANISHED: Katrice Lee
VANISHED: Katrice Lee

A LANDMARK debate will be held in Parliament into the handling of the tragic case of Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee who vanished three decades ago.

It comes as it was announced that Katrice’s sister Natasha Lee, now 38, and supporters will march on Downing Street to raise awareness on the anniversary.

And a reconstruction of the day Katrice disappeared from a British Army base in Paderborn, Germany, where her father Richard Lee was serving as a sergeant major, is also set to be aired on BBC1’s Crimewatch around the same time.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright will speak in the House of Commons about the way in which the case of Katrice Lee has been dealt with.

It will be the first time the case has been debated in Parliament since she went missing in 1981.

The youngster’s family have said for years that they have been ignored by various Governments since the tragic day Katrice went missing on her second birthday, November 28, 1981.

Describing his elation at the news his case will be heard in Government, Richard, who lives off Stockton Road in Hartlepool, said: “It just feels that for so many years we have been treading water and now I feel as though I’ve been allowed on the springboard.

“We are moving closer to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Retired postman Richard appeared in the Hartlepool Mail earlier in the year describing how his family had suffered “decades of silence” and a catalogue of unfairness and errors.

These included the family being denied case notes by the Royal Military Police after all these years.

And Richard revealed a neighbour who lived below the family in Germany at the time recently rang him to say the Royal Military Police had only just interviewed him - 31 years on.

Richard, who is divorced from Katrice’s mother Sharon, appeared in the Mail in April appealing for Prime Minister David Cameron to look into the case and meet with Sharon, as he has with the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.

But in May, Caroline Dinenage, the MP for Sharon, of Gosport, Hampshire, received a letter from Mr Cameron stating that after a meeting with the Royal Military Police the case was not going to be investigated any further.

Richard added: “I’m hoping someone will be able to stand up and be counted and say ‘yes I will take on this man’s fight, I will come on side with him and let’s move forward with things’.

“I feel as though thanks to Iain Wright now my voice is being heard.”

Mr Wright said: “Mr Lee has felt he hasn’t had any degree of real co-operation and feels he has been let down constantly for 30 years.

“I want the Ministry of Defence to own up in respect of some of the botched handling of the case in the earlier days and what can be done now.

“I want him to go away from the debate thinking I did everything possible on his behalf to make representations to the minister.”

Peter Luff, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Defence, Support and Technology, denied the family access to case files and said previously disclosure, even to a family member, could have a prejudicial effect on the investigation or any subsequent trial and it could breach data protection laws.