Katrice Lee re-investigation "a sham" says Hartlepool dad

Ritchie and Katrice Lee
Ritchie and Katrice Lee

The father of a girl who went missing in Germany over 30 years ago has criticised an investigation of her disappearance as a "sham".

Katrice Lee vanished from a Naafi shop in Paderborn, Germany, where dad Richie Lee, from Hartlepool, was serving as a Sergeant Major with the British Army, on her second birthday, in November 1981.

A re-investigation of the case, called Operation Bute, is being carried out by Royal Military Police (RMP). It follows an admission in 2012 by Royal Military Police chiefs that the initial investigation had been flawed.

But Mr Lee, 66, has accused investigators of keeping the family in the dark about its findings and says they are hiding behind the fact that the investigation is still ongoing to do so.

And despite an external civilian police review of Operation Bute being completed 14 months ago Mr Lee said the family had not been informed of its findings.

He said: "I believe the police force finished their review in February last year but yet the military police failed to tell my family.

"The natural assumption is whatever investigation was ongoing has come to a conclusion. According to the military police it is still an open case and they they are still investigating.

"All they have done is treat this as a sham. Every time I request records they come back with things like 'whilst the investigation is ongoing'.

"They say they are trying to be open and transparent. Well they have never been that with me."

Mr Lee claimed a potential key witness who was based at the Naafi at the time of Katrice's disappearance who has come forward has never been interviewed.

He added: "At the end of the day, let's not lose sight of what we are trying to do and that is find my daughter. That's what it's all about.

"For some reason the military police keep hiding behind phrases that it would be wrong to comment while the investigation is ongoing.

"They are wearing very thin. As far as I'm concerned it is purely and simply to hide behind and stop them answering to the press and anybody else."

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has tried to help Mr Lee get answers over the years and a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

A MOD spokesman said: “This is an extremely distressing case and our thoughts remain with the family of Katrice Lee. The Royal Military Police are reinvestigating and it would be inappropriate to comment further while these efforts continue.”