Hartlepool dad of daughter missing for 36 years to meet Government minister
The father of Katrice Lee who went missing 36 years ago is to meet with a Government minister early next month as part of efforts to trace her.
Hartlepool man Richie Lee will meet with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson after pledging in the House of Commons to review the case of Katrice’s disappearance in Germany in 1981 on her second birthday.
On the anniversary of Katrice’s disappearance in November, Hartlepool MP Mike Hill asked Mr Williamson if he would agree to review the case and meet with him and Richie.
Mr Williamson said he would be “more than happy” to meet them and review the case.
Now a meeting in London has been fixed for Monday, February 5.
Katrice vanished on November 28, 1981 from a NAAFI supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, where Richie Lee, was serving as a Sergeant Major.
Katrice’s family believe she was taken and brought up with another family, not knowing her true identity.
As well as Richie and Mr Hill, also present will be Katrice’s mother Sharon and her local MP Caroline Dineage, and the Provost Marshall in charge of the Royal Military Police investigation.
Mr Williamson was appointed Secretary of State for Defence last year, and Richie, 68, hopes he may help shed fresh light on the case.
He said: “I’m absolutely over the moon that he has agreed to meet with me because obviously a new person may take a new view on my daughter’s case.
“I feel my family’s voice is being heard.”
But he said he will reiterate criticisms at the initial investigation by the Royal Military Police and the way he feels the family have been treated by those leading it over the years.
In 2012, the Government apologised to Katrice’s mother and the Royal Military Police admitted failings in its initial inquiry.
A re-investigation, also by the Royal Military Police called Operation BUTE is, currently underway.
Richie added: “My criticisms of what happened in the past still have not changed.
“I will be raising issues such as it took 30 years for them to admit that the initial investigation was flawed and thereafter the re-investigation was aware of that.
“I still maintain they put all their eggs in one basket. They felt from day one Katrice had fallen into the river and drowned.
“I’m trying to put pressure for answers why my family has been treated the way it has.
“But onwards and upwards, I will get answers.”
Mr Hill said a potential new lead will be raised at the meeting.
He said: “I was very pleased that the new Secretary of State was willing to agree to a meeting to discuss the case following my question in the House because after 36 years of stress and worrying the family deserve to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the case.
“Operation BUTE, now a cold case investigation by the Military Police, is still ongoing and like Richard Lee, her father and my constituent, I remain sceptical about the outcome of the meeting but I am hopeful that the new lead we have presented will give the enquiry a fresh impetus.”