Hartlepool dad ‘positive’ after meeting with Minister in search for missing daughter

Richard Lee (68) with a photograph of his daughter Katrice aged 18months. Picture by FRANK REID
Richard Lee (68) with a photograph of his daughter Katrice aged 18months. Picture by FRANK REID

The Hartlepool dad of a girl missing for almost 37 years says the ball is in military police’s court after a meeting with a top Government minister.

Richie Lee and his family have been campaigning to get answers since the disappearance of his daughter Katrice in Germany on November 28, 1981. She vanished on her second birthday.

On Wednesday, Richie met for the second time with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to discuss the ongoing investigation.

He also read out a statement in which he asked for a public inquiry citing a lack of communication between the family and the Royal Military Police who are leading the investigation called Operation BUTE.

Mr Williamson did not commit either way to an inquiry, but Richie, 68, said the meeting was positive.

Richie told the Mail: “I felt he took his ministerial hat off and spoke to me as a father.

“He like my family wants as much as we do to get answers to where Katrice is and what happened on that day.

“He said ‘I’m a father and you don’t give up on your children’. I felt quite elated about it, so from that perspective it was a good meeting.”

Richie said he is waiting to see what happens now with regards to the family being given access by investigators to case files which they say they have been promised but not shown.

He added: “The ball is squarely in the court of the Royal Military Police. Gavin Williamson knows I am not going away.”

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill, who also attended the meeting, said it had been important to keep momentum of the case going.

He said: “It was good to see the commitment is there to continue to resource Operation BUTE and continue to chase down leads.

“I pay tribute to Richie who has gone through so much and yet remains dignified and tenacious in his endeavours to find his daughter, and I am determined to continue to do everything in my power to support him and help bring his living nightmare to an end.”