Claudia Lawrence: Police drain lake in search of clues for missing chef who vanished 12 years ago

North Yorkshire Police officers are carrying out detailed searches around eight miles from the Ms Lawrence’s home

Police investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence have drained a lake in search of clues.

Ms Lawrence, 35, went missing 12 years ago as she walked to work for an early morning shift at the University of York, where she worked as a chef.

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Searches close to Claudia’s home

Officers are carrying out detailed searches of an area around a popular fishing spot just a few miles from the centre of York, after receiving new information from the public.

The operation began close to the village of Sand Hutton last week, with police searching gravel pits, woodland and now the lake bed, which is located around eight miles from Ms Lawrence’s home.

The fire service delivered pumps last week to use at the site and the smaller of the two lakes has now been left empty.

Police used ground penetrating radar equipment and cadaver dogs, as well as conducting a fingertip examination of the lake’s bed.

North Yorkshire Police said it has been probing “a number of emerging lines” of inquiry after receiving new information, adding that the operation will continue for a “number of days”.

Ms Lawrence’s mum, Joan, has said the news of the recent searches has caused her to suffer “awful nightmares” and begged anyone with any information about her daughter’s disappearance to come forward and end her “eternal pain”.

What have police said?

North Yorkshire Police confirmed on Tuesday (24 August) that an operation to search the gravel pits at Sand Hutton was underway and the investigation is just one of “several active lines of inquiry” officers are conducting.

Speaking at the scene, Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox said: “The searches which have commenced here today at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits are in relation to the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence more than 12 years ago.

“While I cannot say at this stage how long the search may take, I do anticipate that a number of specialist officers and staff, including underwater search teams, and forensic experts are likely to be at this location for a number of days.

“Whilst I am unable to disclose what brought us to this location, I would like to stress that the searches that you will see in coming days are just one of several active lines of inquiry which are currently being investigated and pursued by North Yorkshire Police Major Investigation team in our efforts to establish what happened to Claudia and to identify any person responsible for causing her harm.

“I can confirm Claudia’s family are aware this activity is taking place.”

Police suspect that Ms Lawrence was murdered, although her body has never been found. She was last seen on 18 March 2009.

North Yorkshire Police has conducted two investigations and questioned nine people in relation to her disappearance and suspected murder, although no charges have ever been brought.

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