Police Defend Hunt For Scottish Serviceman as Family Question Tactics

3 November 2016, 14:22 | Updated: 3 November 2016, 14:24

Corrie McKeague 2

Police investigating the disappearance of an RAF serviceman who vanished almost six weeks ago have admitted they cannot yet provide the answers his family needs, as they continue efforts to trace him.

Suffolk Police has defended its probe into the disappearance of Corrie McKeague in the face of criticism from the campaign to find him.

The 23-year-old was last seen in the early hours of September 24 after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. He was later reported missing when he failed to turn up at RAF Honington.

His mother Nicola Urquhart, a police officer from Dunfermline in Fife, recently told how she fears he got into a car ''willingly or unwillingly''.

She has previously voiced concern that a third party may have been involved in his disappearance but police have said they are yet to find evidence of criminality.

Writing on Facebook, the serviceman's uncle Tony Wringe suggested that information may have been withheld from the family and ''numerous'' leads have not been followed up.

He wrote: ''Corrie's family is perhaps slightly unusual in their collective knowledge and backgrounds in police, intelligence and security. As a result, information has been identified or analysis conducted which the police have not had the capacity or capability to undertake, or perhaps have, but chosen not to communicate this with the family.

''As a result, there is a lack of trust towards the media management approach the police have employed to date, including coming out immediately after Corrie disappeared, emphatically claiming there was 'no third party involvement', clearly not a statement supported by the evidence then or now.''

He went on: ''It is our summary that Corrie has disappeared against his will, a third party is involved. There are numerous leads that have not been followed up and evidence that has not been effectively processed.''

However, Mrs Urquhart last week appeared to praise Suffolk Police detectives' probe into the mystery. She said: ''Knowing they have done all this work, all I have left is that he left in a vehicle, willingly or unwillingly.''

The force insists officers share the family's aim of finding Mr McKeague and has pointed to the ''extensive'' investigative work carried out so far.

A Suffolk Police spokeswoman said on Thursday: ''Despite this work, media appeals and support from a variety of other groups and agencies who have been searching and assisting with the investigation, there are still no positive sightings of him after 3.25am on Saturday September 24 in Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds. Work to find him continues.

''To date a huge area has been searched, hundreds of hours of CCTV have been viewed and dozens of people have been traced and spoken to.

''Inquiries are being made to identify all of those who were out in the town in the early hours of Saturday 24th in a bid to find out what has happened, and officers continue to ask anyone who was there to come forward.

''A large amount of work has been carried out behind the scenes, however at this stage there is still not a clear line of inquiry as to what may have happened to him and officers continue to look at - and investigate - all possibilities.

''We are aware that we can't provide the answers that Corrie's family need, but police are continuing work to find Corrie.''