A colleague of Claudia Lawrence’s came forward this week with a significant new lead in the investigation.
Police were told that Miss Lawrence had been out with a boyfriend until about 5am on Tuesday 17 March.
Officers have also revealed for the first time that Miss Lawrence was not entirely single at the time of her disappearance, and was in a casual relationship with a man from York. Police are now investigating whether the casual boyfriend was the same man she was out with on 17 March.
It is believed unlikely that this is the case and the police are still waiting to hear from people who were out with Miss Lawrence on the Tuesday night.
Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway said that Miss Lawrence’s colleague had decided to give the police this information after watching the recent appeal on BBC’s Crimewatch.
He said: “He is a person known to the investigation from the outset. It is information he has decided to impart today. I don’t criticise him but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t find it very frustrating.
“He had been reviewing how he could help the investigation on the first anniversary and he remembered this piece of information.”
He added that it was “absolutely critical” that the police find this person.
Suzy Cooper, Miss Lawrence’s best friend, said that she didn’t know about the boyfriend that Miss Lawrence was out with until the early hours of the morning, two days before she disappeared.
She said: “If this happened a couple of days before she went missing then that is really significant, and I find it quite hard to believe that this colleague has waited until exactly a year after she’s missing to tell the police about this conversation.
“We know people’s memories can be jogged by certain things, but something as crucial as that? I’m quite sceptical. I can’t say it didn’t happen, but from what I know about Claudia it is highly unlikely.”
Miss Cooper also said she also found it hard to believe that Miss Lawrence would have been out until nearly 5am on March 17, when her shift at the University’s Roger Kirk Centre canteen began at 6am.
“If she came out on a night when she was on an early shift the following morning she would always be looking at the clock at 11pm and moaning that she was going to be so tired the next day.
“I’m not discrediting what the police have said, but at the same time my initial reaction is that it just doesn’t add up. It’s all a bit far-fetched.”
Miss Cooper said she was also confused by this week’s revelation that police knew Miss Lawrence to have been in a casual relationship with a man from York.
She said: “I didn’t know Claudia was seeing someone casually. I thought I knew everything about her, and then I found out that I didn’t.
“That is hard for me to accept, but now I’ve thought about it in realistic terms, it’s not actually that unusual. She didn’t have to tell me everything.”
Miss Cooper admitted that her friend had been in relationships with married men in the past, but insisted she was not a “scarlet woman”.
Peter Lawrence, the father of Miss Lawrence, has said that this information regarding his daughter’s disappearance has come out “far too late”.
He said: “It’s unbelievable… that someone who has previously been interviewed by the police has suddenly remembered that he had a conversation with Claudia the day before she disappeared.
“First of all, that in itself is unbelievable, and secondly, the fact that Claudia – who was always tired with her very physical job and with her early shifts and went to bed at 9.30 at night by the latest during the week – apparently said she was up until about 4.30 in the morning.”
If you have information to help the investigation, phone North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 247 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.