Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 14:08 UK

Claudia police delays questioned

Claudia Lawrence
Miss Lawrence was last seen near her home in York on 18 March

A friend of missing chef Claudia Lawrence said she is surprised British police did not act sooner to investigate a link to Cyprus.

North Yorkshire officers have recently been sent to the Mediterranean island to try to find people she knew.

Suzy Cooper said she was surprised the visit had taken place so long after the last text message Miss Lawrence received was found to be from Cyprus.

Police said the primary focus has always been in York.

At a news conference last week, Det Supt Ray Galloway revealed he believed the 35-year-old could be in Cyprus.

Claudia absolutely loved it there, really loved it. She said she felt really comfortable
Miss Lawrence's friend Suzy Cooper

It emerged that early on in the investigation, detectives had traced the last text message Miss Lawrence received to the island.

It was sent just after 2100 BST on 18 March - the night she was last seen in York.

The detective said that man had been spoken to early in the inquiry, but as it progressed it had become apparent that Miss Lawrence knew other people on the island.

Close friend Suzy Cooper told BBC Radio York that Miss Lawrence had travelled several times to an area called Peyia.

'Primary focus'

"To be honest I'm surprised they [the police] have not gone a bit sooner, obviously because she had visited there quite a lot, met people and knew people over there."

She added: "Claudia absolutely loved it there, really loved it. She said she felt really comfortable."

Mr Galloway said officers were sent to Cyprus when it was "necessary".

"Enquiries have been conducted with people who knew or were in contact with Claudia since the earliest stages of the investigation, but the primary focus of the investigation has always been in York.

"Only as further investigation revealed the extent of Claudia's contacts on the island did it become apparent that it would be necessary to send a team across there."



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