New arrest in Claudia murder inquiry as police search pub

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence yesterday arrested a York man on suspicion of perverting the course of justice as police officers spent hours searching a pub in the city.

In the latest twist for the five-year investigation into the chef’s disappearance, North Yorkshire Police sealed off The Acomb pub, thought to be one of the places she socialised in the months before she vanished in 2009.

After police arrived at 8am, locals watched in the hot sun as uniformed officers guarded the perimeter of the building, which has a bookmakers business attached one side and a children’s play area at the rear.

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The force later revealed officers had “arrested a 46-year-old man from the York area on suspicion of perverting the course of justice”. It added: “The man is currently being interviewed in custody while searches and forensic enquiries are conducted in relation to the investigation.”

He was later released on bail. The force said the investigation was “very much active” and said there was the possibility that further arrests will be made.

A 59-year-old man arrested in May on suspicion of murdering Miss Lawrence, a chef at York University, remains on bail while enquiries continue.

In a statement, Martin Dales, spokesman for Claudia’s father Peter Lawrence, said: “Peter remains very grateful for all the hard work that North Yorkshire Police are continuing to put in to finding Claudia.

“It is to be hoped that this is another vital piece in the jigsaw of information that needs to come in to the police: it is much better if people volunteer information than wasting valuable police time in them having to find it out for themselves and then come looking for people.”

During yesterday’s search, officers in white forensic suits could be seen working inside the building and, from time to time, bringing objects out into waiting vehicles. Some of the things brought out appeared to be doors, wrapped in plastic. Drilling could be heard from the premises.

Miss Lawrence disappeared in 2009 aged 35. Despite one of the biggest investigations ever mounted by North Yorkshire police there has been no trace of her since.

She was last seen at around 3pm on March 18 2009 as she made her way home from her shift and was reported missing by her father two days later.

It is believed something happened to her as she left for work early on March 19. Since the fifth anniversary of her disappearance new lines of inquiry have emerged, although her body has never been found.

In March this year, police revealed that new analysis of Miss Lawrence’s mobile phone showed she was in the Acomb area of the city in the weeks before she disappeared. Officers looking into her disappearance said she may have been socialising “with a person or persons”.

Investigators believe Miss Lawrence’s missing silver Samsung D900 mobile phone was deliberately turned off by someone around 12.10pm on Thursday March 19, 2009.

After North Yorkshire Police’s Crimewatch appeal, the force said “some good information came in following the appeal about Claudia visiting the Acomb area of York in the weeks before she disappeared”.

It added: “On the back of this response, the investigation team is specifically appealing to local taxi drivers to come forward who may have taken Claudia to Acomb or picked her up from the area early in the morning.”

It was reported in 2009 that The Acomb was one of the pubs Miss Lawrence used to visit, and that she went there to visit a friend.

Anyone with information should call North Yorkshire Police on 101 and pass details to the Force Control Room. A £10,000 Crimestoppers reward is still available for information leading to an arrest and conviction.