Hartlepool father Richard Lee visits Downing Street to highlight missing daughter's case

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A Hartlepool veteran has tried to hand back his service medals at Downing Street in disgust at the Government and military’s investigation into his daughter’s disappearance.

Richard Lee, 74, made the journey to London on Friday, May 31, to put pressure on the government for an independent or public inquiry into his daughter Katrice’s case.

She disappeared on her second birthday in November 1981 near a British military base in Paderborn, in what was then West Germany, where Ritchie was stationed.

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It comes after Royal Military Police (RMP) in 2012 apologised for failings in their initial investigation and reopened its enquiries under the name Operation Bute.

Former warrant officer, veteran Ritchie Lee from Hartlepool, with his medals outside Downing Street. Photo credit: Lucy North/PA WireFormer warrant officer, veteran Ritchie Lee from Hartlepool, with his medals outside Downing Street. Photo credit: Lucy North/PA Wire
Former warrant officer, veteran Ritchie Lee from Hartlepool, with his medals outside Downing Street. Photo credit: Lucy North/PA Wire

Richard, a former warrant officer, who served in the Army for 30 years, travelled to London by bus with a group of supporters and fellow veterans.

Many wore special T-shirts with Katrice’s picture on the front.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Ritchie said: “Realistically, the medals mean nothing to me, and were devalued very early on by the lack of support that an institution should have shown my family.

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"I would rather not have the cold lump of metal, but have answers to where Katrice is, and I feel that had they pursued and dealt with my daughter’s case correctly, then I wouldn’t be in this position.”

How Katrice Lee may have looked at the age of 38 in 2017.How Katrice Lee may have looked at the age of 38 in 2017.
How Katrice Lee may have looked at the age of 38 in 2017.

He was admitted to Downing Street but was prevented from handing his medals back as they were deemed “personal belongings”.

Richard revealed his intentions in an interview with the Mail back in November.

Katrice was last seen wearing a blue duffle coat with a green fur hood, a green and blue pinafore dress, red wellies and a white blouse with a blue collar and cuffs.

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An Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Katrice Lee’s family and if anyone has any new information relating to the disappearance of Katrice, they can contact us on 0800 616 888.

Some of the supporters for Ritchie Lee outside Downing Street on Friday, Mary 31.Some of the supporters for Ritchie Lee outside Downing Street on Friday, Mary 31.
Some of the supporters for Ritchie Lee outside Downing Street on Friday, Mary 31.

“The Defence Serious Crime Unit became operational on December 5, 2022, and assumed primacy of the investigation into the disappearance of Katrice Lee.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on the investigations made by the Royal Military Police and the German police between 1981 and 2022.”

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