Saturday 25th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Claudia: Halliwell Confirmed as a Suspect

Claudia: Halliwell Confirmed as a Suspect

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

Currently the single biggest crime story in the UK is the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence (pictured above left) in York in 2009.

Claudia was a thirty five year old chef at the University of York’s Goodricke College. She was due to walk three miles to work on Thursday the 19th of March for a shift beginning at 6am, but did not turn up for work. She was reported missing the next day and North Yorkshire Police (NYP) designated her disappearance as “no body” murder shortly afterwards.

The first Crimewatch UK appeal from 2009 in which NYP focused on Claudia’s personal life can be seen here, the second can be seen here.

Despite a massive investigation by (NYP), Claudia’s body has never been found and her murderer has not been arrested.

Christopher Halliwell

Serial killer Christopher Halliwell (pictured above right) was arrested in 2011 for the murders of Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden-Edwards in Swindon.

In 2016, Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher who arrested Halliwell after a most skilful investigation stated that he believed Halliwell may be responsible for Claudia’s murder.

For years, the NYE and retired Norfolk Police Intelligence Officer Chris Clark have asserted that serial killer Christopher John Halliwell was a very strong suspect for Claudia’s murder. This was on the basis that Claudia’s abduction and murder fitted with Halliwell’s modus operandi, his whereabouts at the time of her disappearance were unknown and there were sightings of him in Yorkshire.

However, in 2009 NYP had decided to focus the search for Claudia’s killer on her circle of friends and this I believe has led to Halliwell being ignored as a suspect. In my article Claudia the other victims, I described how over the course of the investigation, six men have been arrested for her murder and had their names released to the press by NYP, to bring further pressure to bear on them. None of them were remanded in custody or charged with any offence and have all now been released from police bail. Their lives ruined.

In my last article on the Claudia Lawrence investigation Claudia: Time for Scotland Yard I stated:

“Halliwell has never been impartially investigated as a suspect and eliminated. He has not even been interviewed about her murder.

NYP appears to be obsessively pursuing a belief that the murderer is a local man that knew Claudia and ignoring all other lines of enquiry.  

The possibility of a successful outcome has been harmed by the failings of successive NYP investigations. I nevertheless believe that Claudia’s case is solvable. However, in my view this can only occur if an impartial cold case review is conducted by a very senior detective from another force.”

NYP comments on its investigation of Halliwell as a suspect

On the 13th of April 2023 the Mirror published this excellent article by Lucy Thornton Mother of Christopher Halliwell victim fears he killed Claudia Lawrence too, which puts the case for Halliwell as a suspect in the Claudia Lawrence murder.

This has forced NYP to comment on its investigation of Halliwell, in this statement issued on the 14th of April 2023:

“Statement in response to media coverage linking Wiltshire convicted murderer Christopher Halliwell to the Claudia Lawrence investigation

Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox, Head of the Major Investigation Team at North Yorkshire Police, said:

“Since September 2016, when it was first suggested by a former detective from Wiltshire Police [Detective Superintendent Fulcher], the North Yorkshire Police enquiry team have continued to engage closely with our colleagues in Wiltshire to establish any possible link between Christopher Halliwell and Claudia Lawrence. 

We have pursued lines of enquiry which are focussed on any link he may have to the North Yorkshire area and, in particular, the movements of Christopher Halliwell during the material times in which we believe Claudia came to harm.

The results of those enquiries, which included examinations of digital devices and the interviewing of several witnesses, indicated that Halliwell continued to operate as a taxi driver in the Swindon area within the relevant time parameters.

Both investigation teams reached a position in which we concluded it to be unlikely that Halliwell left the Wiltshire area, or was present in North Yorkshire, at the time of Claudia’s disappearance.

I am mindful of recent information from witnesses which suggests that Halliwell had links to Yorkshire and may have stalked females in the local area.

Steps have been taken to conduct interviews with these witnesses and that information has been thoroughly assessed against known facts.

However, I continue to keep an open mind and repeat that North Yorkshire Police is committed to finding the answers that Claudia’s family deserve and need.

Should any information indicate that Christopher Halliwell may have been elsewhere other than Swindon between Wednesday 18 March and Friday 20 March 2009, then this information will be thoroughly investigated and tested against the volumes of material gathered throughout the course of the enquiry.

I urge anybody with information which they feel may be relevant to the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia to make contact with North Yorkshire Police.”

This statement requires further analysis.

NYP admits major blunder in Claudia Lawrence investigation

Halliwell was arrested in 2011 and was immediately identified as a serial killer who travelled widely and operated in different force areas.

In accordance with standard procedure Wiltshire Police (WP) issued a notice to all forces asking them to consider if Halliwell could be responsible for any murders in their force area. This, coupled with the media comment should have alerted NYP CID that Halliwell should be considered as a suspect in Claudia’s murder. However according to the statement, Halliwell was ignored by both WP and NYP until Detective Superintendent Fulcher spoke out in 2016.

This was a major blunder by both Forces.

In my article Claudia Lawrence and Halliwell: New Developments, I revealed that an Independent Office of Police Conduct investigation into the WP investigation had revealed catastrophic failures (Extract):

“The investigation found that between 2011-14 the murder inquiry was poorly progressed and supervised, reasonable lines of enquiry were not pursued, and key evidence was not forensically examined.”

“there was a case to answer for misconduct for Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, who was then-Head of Protective Services for Wiltshire Police……in respect of allegations that, in his oversight and scrutiny role, he did not ensure a sufficiently thorough murder inquiry or ensure that necessary case reviews were conducted.”

 This would now appear to apply to the investigation of Halliwell as a suspect by both WP and NYP. It was only when Detective Superintendent Fulcher spoke out publicly in 2016, that NYP and WP considered Halliwell as a suspect. Quoted in the Mirror Detective Superintendent Fulcher said:

“the neglect of duty in this case has been staggering. It will be a police scandal on the scale of Stephen Lawrence.”

Designation of Halliwell as a suspect

The statement says:

“We have pursued lines of enquiry which are focussed on any link he may have to the North Yorkshire area and, in particular, the movements of Christopher Halliwell during the material times in which we believe Claudia came to harm.”

This confirms that Halliwell is a suspect in the murder of Claudia Lawrence.

NYP and WP fail to eliminate Halliwell as a suspect

The statement goes on to say:

“The results of those enquiries, which included examinations of digital devices and the interviewing of several witnesses, indicated that Halliwell continued to operate as a taxi driver in the Swindon area within the relevant time parameters.” 

If the mobile ‘phone analysis confirmed Halliwell was in Swindon, or there was proof that he was working in the Swindon area in the relevant time period, the statement would say confirms not “indicated” and would then go on to say that he had therefore been eliminated as a suspect.

Halliwell was surveillance aware and very careful to evade it. All we know for certain about Halliwell’s movements is that he filled up with fuel in Swindon on the night of Claudia’s disappearance. This would ensure he had enough fuel to go to York and back and would not be picked up on CCTV filling up at a motorway service station. When he abducted Sian O Callaghan, he switched off his mobile ‘phone, to ensure it could not be used to track him, so it is quite clear he would have done the same when travelling up to York. 

“Both investigation teams reached a position in which we concluded it to be unlikely that Halliwell left the Wiltshire area, or was present in North Yorkshire, at the time of Claudia’s disappearance.”

The only conclusion the investigation can draw is that it has not been able to positively confirm his presence in Swindon, or exclude him from being in York at the material time.

The statement uses the word “unlikely”, which is therefore speculation, inappropriate for a statement of this nature and does not exclude the possibility that he was in York at the material time.

However, I continue to keep an open mind. 

Detective Superintendent Fox confirms that he is keeping an open mind on Halliwell as a suspect, which confirms that he remains a suspect and that NYP and WP have been unable to eliminate him.

NYP continued failure to follow up on evidence

Finally, the statement appeals for information:

I urge anybody with information which they feel may be relevant to the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia to make contact with North Yorkshire Police.”

At first glance, this gives an impression of a force that is still pursuing the investigation. The reality is very different.

On the 18th of March 2015, NYP made an appeal with CCTV showing a man behaving suspiciously near Claudia’s home at about 19.15 on the 18th of March 2009. The NYP appeal with the footage can be seen here. Other footage taken on the 19th of March was subsequently released.

NYE reader Arrin Stoner enhanced this CCTV which shows a man closely resembling Halliwell and provided it to NYP. His evidence was not responded to and neither was my follow up.

Enhanced CCTV image showing a man closely resembling Halliwell outside Claudia’s home,
provided to NYP by the NYE and ignored

NYP continues to ignore information and disregard key evidence:

  • NYP has not interviewed Christopher Halliwell in prison, even though he remains a suspect in the investigation, the murder fits perfectly with his modus operandi and there is circumstantial evidence linking him to the crime.
  • NYP has not followed up on the enhanced CCTV images from NYE reader Arrin Stoner,
  • NYP has not responded to correspondence from me, concerning information that has come to my attention

In my view, this is because:

  • The NYE has exposed so many scandals and issues of Police misconduct in the past, so Chief Constable Winward has proscribed it and prohibited all contact between NYP Officers and the NYE, to protect her own reputation and that of her force.
  • Should Halliwell be confirmed as Claudia’s murderer, it will show that NYP bungled the investigation into her murder and arrested nine innocent men, thereby ruining their lives. A disaster for the reputation of NYP and for the senior officers leading the investigation, which of course includes Detective Superintendent Fox.

I will leave the last word in this article to Claudia’s brave mother Joan:

“I still don’t feel the police have investigated the link between Claudia’s disappearance and Christopher Halliwell. The police may not have proved he had anything to do with my daughter’s disappearance, but they haven’t disproved it either”.

Her remarks are now vindicated.



NYE Appeal for Information

Whenever the authors run an article on a cold case, the NYE always runs an appeal for information, to try to keep the case in the public eye and generate information. 

Christopher Halliwell had a slim athletic build and spoke with a slight Swindon accent. He is pictured in the lead illustration in 2011, two years after the murder of Claudia Lawrence. You can see and hear him in the video here.

  • Did he offer you a lift in his minicab?
  • Did you know of Christopher Halliwell’s Father Alan Keith Halliwell who is believed to have lived in Huddersfield, York, Ampleforth and/or Oswaldkirk and who previously served in the RAF at Swindon and other locations?
  • Did you see Christopher Halliwell staying in a bed and breakfast or hotel along the A19, in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, York or the North York Moors area?
  • Did you see Christopher Halliwell:
  • Fishing at Scarborough?
  • Fishing at Whitby?
  • Fishing at Scaling Dam?
  • Fishing at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits?
  • Fishing at York University Lake?
  • In York?
  • At Ampleforth?
  • At Oswaldkirk?
  • At the Kilburn White Horse?
  • At the Nag’s Head or the Acomb Hotel in York?
  • In Middlesbrough?
  • Fishing at Scaling Dam?
  • Fishing along the River Tees?
  • Fishing at Scarborough?
  • Fishing at Whitby?
  • On the North York Moors?
  • In Darlington?
  • At Llangollen, North Wales?

Any information would considerably assist our knowledge of Halliwell’s movements. So please contact the NYE in complete confidence using our email address: news@nyenquirer.uk if you think you can help.


Right of Reply

If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the letters@nyenquirer.uk email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.


 

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