Suffolk Police have revealed the area of landfill where they were searching for missing Corrie McKeague will be left untouched while a review of the investigation is carried out.
Search teams were stood down on Friday after 20 weeks of sifting through more than 6,500 tonnes of waste at cell 22 at the Milton landfill.
Detectives said they had found ‘no trace’ of Corrie, despite ‘all evidence’ pointing to his body being buried at the landfill site.
Corrie’s father Martin McKeague barricaded the entrance to the landfill earlier today with his camper van as he called on police to continue the £1.2 million search.
Corrie’s mother Nicola Urquhart was looking into obtaining an injunction to stop the landfill site being filled in.
A petition calling on police to continue the search has attracted more than 24,000 signatures.
Tonight, Suffolk Police confirmed the landfill cell will not be filled in until a review of the investigation has concluded.
They will now look at searching preserved waste which was incinerated in their hunt for further clues as to what happened to Corrie.
A spokesman said: “The search for Corrie remains a live and active investigation as we all remain committed to finding him.
“We have exhausted the search as to where Corrie is mostly likely to be at the landfill site at Milton, although we acknowledge and understand the frustration that Corrie’s family, friends and many supporters feel in relation to this.
“We will now take time to pause and reflect where we are with the investigation and will continue to carefully review it as we have done from the outset. With this in mind while we no longer have an operational presence at the site at Milton, the police have agreed with the company that run the site to leave cell 22 in its current state and will not be using it for the deposition of waste until the review is concluded.
“As said on Friday, we will now commission an external police force to carry out an independent review of the investigation. The identity of the force that will conduct this is still to be established as we are eager to ensure that it is a force that satisfies the need for complete transparency and independence. We are confident this will be a forensic, detailed and impartial review that will leave no stone unturned. If this review establishes further lines of enquiry we will pursue them.
“We reiterate that although it is not a criminal investigation, our work to locate Corrie remains on-going.
“This will include work to search preserved waste that was incinerated to see if this will establish if there are any further clues as to what happened to Corrie. This incinerated waste will be subject to examination and where necessary forensic analysis in the coming weeks.
“Corrie’s mother and father have both been updated in relation to all of the above.”
Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is extremely sad that the mystery surrounding Corrie’s whereabouts has not been resolved. My thoughts are with Mrs Urquhart and Mr McKeague and their families; I cannot even begin to understand what they have been going through since their son’s disappearance.
“The next step is an independent review of the investigation by an external police force and I will be looking very closely at any recommendations highlighted in this review.
“I have been assured by the Chief Constable that this missing person enquiry remains open and am satisfied that the Constabulary will continue to pursue any positive lines of enquiry.”
Mr McKeague, who met with the police twice today, said he was ‘happy with the outcome that a review is now planned, and that the landfill site will not be touched until then’.