A father whose daughter went missing in Germany 37 years ago has spoken about how his daughter's disappearance is every bit as important as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Katrice Lee was just 2 years old when she went missing from a supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, 37 years ago and her father Richard Lee has argued that she did not get "a fair crack of the whip" when compared with Maddie's case that has so far cost the police force about £12m.
Katrice was taken from a Naafi supermarket in the Western German city nearly four decades ago whilst her father was serving as a British Army Sergeant.
Yesterday, the 68-year-old travelled to the banks of the River Alme, where the Royal Military Police are conducting an excavation to try to find any clues or leads. The trip coincided with the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from the holiday resort of Praia da Luz, on Portugal's Algarve coast.
He said: "I'm not in competition with the McCanns and would not want to be in competition with them.
"But as far as I'm concerned, for the past 10 years I've been fighting to get a level playing field for all missing children.
"No missing child's case is more important than another and I don't feel my daughter has been given a fair crack of the whip.
"There are thousands of missing children in the UK, why do they not get the same attention as high-profile ones?"
How Katrice may look today. Credit: PA
Given the time that has passed since Katrice's disappearance, the Military Police have admitted that the current search is for her body and clothes.
They are working alongside forensic experts as well as reviewing what was said by witnesses at the time of the incident, according to Warrant Officer Class 1 Richard O'Leary, who is involved in the search.
The police are also seeking information about 495 people who lived in the city of Paderborn that owned green cars in November 1981, when the 2-year-old girl went missing.
Police have also recently issued a composite picture of a man who was seen holding a child matching Katrice's description near the store. He was seen in a green car near the river a day later.
The e-fit of the kidnapper. Credit: PA
Richard believes that his daughter is still alive to this day, but was taken for other reasons. He continued: "I hope they find nothing in this dig, as it would confirm my belief Katrice was taken as a surrogate child and is living a lie somewhere today."
At the time of her disappearance, Mr Lee insists that the RMP handled the case poorly - they didn't even speak to cashiers for six months after the toddler was abducted.
He said: "Someone made decisions without telling the family, from day one, that Katrice drowned in the river.
"We haven't been kept informed all along and I will never forgive the RMP, but that is not the fault of those now investigating the case."
Officer O'Leary admitted that the case was badly dealt with at the time. He said: "The RMP has acknowledged the initial investigation was flawed and we have sincerely apologised to Mr Lee for those failings."
Featured Image Credit: PA