Officers have searched two houses 100 miles apart and a car has been seized by experts looking into the disappearance of the chef five years ago. Today the man arrested has been named as 59-year-old Mr Snelling, who had worked at the same university as Miss Lawrence and also drank in her local pub.
Police seal off a property in York in conection with the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence.
This morning, police took a black labrador sniffer dog into a semi-detached property in North Shields, Tyneside, and a number of police and forensic scientists could be seen at work. The house is believed to belong to Mr Snelling's mother, and neighbours said that the former York University lab technician was arrested at the address yesterday. Another police team was continuing a search started yesterday at Mr Snelling's home in Yorkshire.
He has been questioned previously by police and his home and garden in York are understood to have been examined in 2009. But his name is thought to have come to the fore during the cold case review. The arrest came after it was decided certain aspects of the original investigation had “not been adequately examined”. The search is expected to take a number of days.
Police have not ruled out making further arrests soon. Yesterday a source who knew Claudia well said: “He was a nice enough bloke. Quite chatty. He used to stand at the bar and he would talk to Claudia, as would a lot of people. As police searched his tatty semi-detached home and back garden – including an area around his shed – neighbours described him as a ‘pleasant” and private man
Police investigating the murder of Claudia Lawrence say there is the "possibility of further arrests" after suspect Michael Snelling is released on bail.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said in a statement that "as investigations continue with the possibility of further arrests to be made, all sections of the community and the media are reminded and encouraged to respect the rights of others, including those connected to the case." "To date, nobody has been charged with any criminal act emanating from this case," police said.
It comes as the family of the man quizzed over the disappearance of Claudia, Michael Snelling, have spoken of their of their astonishment at his arrest – as police deployed sniffer dogs at his home. Snelling was last night released on bail. The 59-year-old, who worked at York University where Claudia was a chef, was detained on Tuesday on suspicion of her murder, five years after she vanished.
As relatives of Mr Snelling insisted police had got the “wrong man”, forensic experts continued to search his home in Heworth, York, for a second day and also combed his mother’s house in North Shields, Tyneside. One family member, who did not want to be named, said: “My god, I cannot believe it. He has not been anything but the best of sons to his mother and he is just a nice bloke. “His sister lives abroad and his brother has just died of a heart attack – so he was the one who kept an eye on her. He would regularly travel to see her and look after her. To arrest him beggars belief.”
In March this year, officers of the investigation team announced they had new lines of inquiry which included the fingerprints of people who had not yet come forward. Single Mr Snelling, who is a Newcastle United season ticket holder, is a regular in the Walnut Tree pub, where Claudia’s father Peter Lawrence, 68, also goes. Locals know Mr Snelling as “Geordie Mick”.
A man has been arrested as part of the continuing investigation into the murder of Claudia Lawrence. The chef has not been seen since she disappeared in March 2009 at the age of 35. North Yorkshire Police said a 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and has been bailed. The arrest comes after reports of a large police presence at The Acomb pub, on Kingsway in Acomb, York, earlier.
A pub landlord arrested by police investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence declared: 'I didn't kill her and I didn't have an affair with her'. Paul Harris, 46, who runs The Acomb pub in York, spoke out after he was released on bail after being questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in connection with the hunt for the 35-year-old chef. He said: 'I know everyone is saying that I either murdered Claudia or I had an affair with Claudia, but that's not true. 'I just feel for Claudia's family. This sort of thing must give them false hope.'
The publican told 5 News his children were reduced to tears after he was arrested and his pub searched by detectives from North Yorkshire Police investigating the case of the York University chef who disappeared on her way to work in March 2009. 'People have been texting my children asking "Did your dad kill Claudia Lawrence?" My kids have been in tears, my wife has been in tears all night,' he said. He said Ms Lawrence had visited his pub two weeks before she went missing, but said it was the first time she'd been there for years as she had starting frequenting another local pub, The Nag's Head, instead.
Mr Harris, who has run the pub in the west of York, three miles from where Ms Lawrence lived, for 11 years, said: 'The police have told me I was arrested because a woman came forward recently saying something that contradicted what I said in a statement taken at the time Claudia went missing. 'I can't say who it is who came forward, or what was in the statement, but what I can say is that I volunteered to give the police a statement at the time. I gave my DNA, I've got nothing to hide.' He said the police were not questioning him in relation to Ms Lawrence's disappearance in 2009 but because of a discrepancy between something she said and something he said in his statement at the time.
He added: 'There's so much interest in this story that making arrests makes it look like they're getting somewhere. 'They've gone upstairs where I've been renovating rooms and made a mess up there, searching around. I've got about 12 doors which have been stripped of paint and they've taken two of them away. 'Why would you take them away? They've been stripped so won't have any DNA on them.' Mr Harris, who said he had displayed a 'Missing Claudia Lawrence' poster in his pub window to help with the search, said: 'Claudia came into the pub once in the two years before she went missing. 'She was with people who are friends of mine - they're still friends now. I didn't know her any more than that, and the cops know that.'
Police investigating the disappearance of York University chef Claudia Lawrence in 2009 say they have released on bail a man in his fifties arrested yesterday (23 March). Searches at a semi-detached property in a cul-de-sac linked to the man, who is married and from the same area of York, were completed last night, police said.
A police spokesman said the release of the man would "allow detectives time to follow up lines of inquiry". The family of Ms Lawrence, who was 35 when she disappeared, have been informed of the fresh development. The suspect, who lives under half a mile from Ms Lawrence's home and was reportedly a regular at the same pub she frequented, was also questioned last year and arrested following the release of CCTV footage last week, on the sixth anniversary of Ms Lawrence's disappearance.
In the footage, broadcast on a large screen near Ms Lawrence's home, two men can be seen in the vicinity of her house, one of whom appears to be acting suspiciously. North Yorkshire Police have again appealed for people and the media not to identify the suspect. Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn said: "I am very grateful to the media and the public for supporting my request that this individual should under no circumstances be identified, either in traditional media or on social media platforms.
Police released the man, who is in his 50s, on bail after declaring they needed more time to follow up new lines of inquiry. His wife declined to comment on his arrest or his 29 hours of questioning by murder squad detectives. It is thought she and her husband later left their home in York to visit relatives. Last night, a police source revealed that the current escalation into the six-year investigation into Claudia’s disappearance remains “very live”.
Four years; 31 officers of the Metropolitan Police; 33 trips to Portugal; £10million. There, in cold, unemotional figures, is the cost of the British inquiry in terms of the time, manpower, travel and money which has been spent on investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Expressed in this manner, it is not difficult to understand why some are saying that it is time to scale back the search for the little girl. After all, it has produced no fruitful new leads or lines of inquiry.
At the same time, the Met is stretched as never before with quashing terrorist plots while also having to cope with ever diminishing finances. A hard-nosed accountant or a time-and-motion inspector would no doubt use those numbers to swing the argument for calling a halt to Operation Grange, the name given by the Met to the inquiry into Maddie. The trouble is that the unexplained disappearance of a child is never a cold, unemotional event.
Nearly eight years on, they remain engaged with the case. That is why all parents – and even many who are not – will feel only dismay at the idea that it is time for the police to throw in the towel now. What is even more distressing is the implied suggestion that a price can be put on a child’s life. Some ask why it is the already over-burdened London force which is looking for Maddie when the McCanns are not residents of the capital.
To continue looking for Maddie is to acknowledge that hope doesn’t die – and with good reason. In this very week, police arrested a man in connection with the disappearance of chef Claudia Lawrence, who went missing from York six years ago. As with the Maddie case, the place where Claudia was last seen has been searched time and again and still, it seems that it had not yet yielded up all its secrets. Before Maddie, Britain’s best-known missing child was Ben Needham, who was a little blonde toddler when he vanished in 1991 while on holiday with his mother and grandparents on the Greek island of Kos.