Katrice Lee search: Hartlepool MP Mike Hill acts to protect dig evidence

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill intervened in the search for missing toddler Katrice Lee to ensure evidence is preserved for future analysis.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:42 pm
Royal Military Police sift through earth during last year's forensic investigation near the river Alme in Paderborn, Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Mr Hill stepped in after learning that small bone fragments found during a dig of a German riverbank last May in the hunt for Katrice were due to be put back.

Katrice vanished on her second birthday on November 28 in 1981 from a NAAFI supermarket in Paderborn, West Germany.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill and Richie Lee, dad of missing Katrice, outside the Ministry of Defence.

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Her father Richie Lee from Hartlepool was stationed there with the British Army at the time.

Last May, Royal Military Police investigators spent five weeks excavating the bank of the River Alme.

Seven pieces of bone fragment were found. One was found to belong to a horse while the other six could not be positively identified.

Mr Hill said he intervened after investigators leading the search for Katrice, called Operation BUTE, wrote to Mr Lee last week indicating that small fragments would be returned to the river bank.

Katrice Lee aged 23months. Picture by FRANK REID

Mr Hill wrote to the Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson and spoke to one of the senior detectives on the case.

He said: “As a result the bone fragment evidence has and will be preserved.

“I have been told that there was never any intention to put anything back in the river other than the piles of stones excavated at the time, but am pleased that the more significant finds will be preserved so that one day, if necessary, they can be subject to independent analysis and testing.

“I have no reason to believe that the bone fragments are anything other than those of an animal as originally determined, but as well as securing the preservation of the finds I have also requested a copy of the forensic report in order to see the evidence for myself.”

Mr Hill added he was greatly assisted by the advice of leading QC, John Cooper, who is acting for Mr Lee.

Mr Hill has supported Mr Lee and his family’s ongoing determination to learn what happened to Katrice, including attending meetings with the Defence Secretary and travelling with Mr Lee to Germany last year during the excavation.

Mr Lee, 69, of Belle Vue, said of Mike’s recent intervention: “I totally agree with him. I’m very grateful for his ongoing support.”
He remains convinced that Katrice was abducted to be a surrogate child for another family and has been living a lie ever since.

This year Katrice marks the 40th birthday of Katrice.