England

Katrice Lee disappearance: Re-investigation 'a sham', says father

Katrice Lee Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Katrice Lee went missing on her second birthday

The father of a toddler who went missing 35 years ago says that a re-investigation into her disappearance has become a "sham".

Katrice Lee vanished in 1981 from a shop at a German military base where her father from Teesside was stationed.

The re-investigation, called Operation Bute, is being carried out by Royal Military Police (RMP).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) rejected the criticism and said it was pursuing several lines of inquiry.

It was launched four years ago and the girl's father, Richard Lee, of Hartlepool, believes its active status is a means of preventing the family accessing case files and details about previous attempts to find Katrice.

She went missing on 28 November 1981 - her second birthday - in a Naafi shop in Paderborn while out shopping with her mother Sharon, from Gosport, Hampshire.

Additionally, a civilian police review of Operation Bute was completed 14 months ago and Mr Lee said the family had not been informed of its findings.

'Contempt'

He said: "They haven't got my trust. [The MoD] treat my family with contempt.

"It's about time the MoD came clean. The RMP are making a complete and utter sham of being transparent and open."

The Lees have previously said they believe the youngster was abducted.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said Operation Bute had not "had the interests of the family and the interests of justice at its heart".

He added: "The timescale alone suggests they don't have it as a key priority, it's kicked into the long grass. It's simply not good enough and it's disrespectful to the Lee family."

In a statement, the MoD said: "This is an extremely distressing case and our thoughts remain with the family of Katrice Lee.

"The Royal Military Police are reinvestigating and it would be inappropriate to comment further while these efforts continue."

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