Hartlepool dad meets investigators looking for daughter who has been missing for 36 years

The father of a girl who vanished near a military base 36 years ago has met the new team investigating her disappearance for the first time.

Richie Lee from Hartlepool – dad of Katrice Lee who disapeared in Germany in 1981 – visited Campion Lines Army base in Bulford, Wiltshire, yesterday to hear from those leading the Royal Military Police investigation called Operation Bute.

Richard Lee (68) with photographs of his daughter Katrice. Picture by FRANK REID

Richard Lee (68) with photographs of his daughter Katrice. Picture by FRANK REID

Richie said he remained sceptical following flaws in the original investigation but said he would be fair to the new team investigating.

Katrice vanished on her second birthday from a NAAFI supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, where Richie, was serving as a Sergeant Major at the time.

Her family believe she was taken and brought up by another family, unaware of who she really is.

Yesterday’s meeting came after Richie and other members of the family met

defence secretary Gavin Williamson in London last month.

Richie told the Mail: “I told the investigation team in my opening brief I am sceptical and will remain sceptical however we have crossed that first hurdle.

“This investigation team in no way is at fault. What this investigation team is having to do is clean up the mess that occurred in the past.

“I have pointed out unless they now clear up the past then I struggle to move on to the future.”

In 2012, the Government apologised to Katrice’s mother Sharon and the Royal Military Police admitted failings in its initial inquiry.

Richie’s other daughter Natasha and Hartlepool MP Mike Hill also attended yesterday’s visit.

Mr Hill said: “Richard needs to know that the search for his missing daughter is as forensic and energetic as it should be and that all leads, including recent ones given over to Operation Bute from my office, are being followed up and chased down.”

Richie is due to update the defence secratary in the next few weeks.

He added: “I have to go away now and allow myself a bit of time to absorb what has been presented to me.”