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Police search Alice Holt forest near Farnham for missing diplomat

4 minute read
Police search Alice Holt forest near Farnham for missing diplomat

Published by Carol Musgrave at 6:10am 13th May 2020.

Specialist police officers have been searching Alice Holt Forest near Farnham where missing diplomat Richard Morris was a regular jogger.

Mr Morris, 52, went missing a week ago (6 May)after setting off on a morning run from his Hampshire home.

After a briefing beside the visitors' centre at Alice Holt , a team of a dozen searchers combed through waist-high bracken beneath towering silver birch and conifer trees.

Moving slowly in a line - and warned by their adviser PC Richard Webb to beware of adders - they prodded the ground with sticks and searched ditches where Mr Morris might have fallen injured.

Dog teams, a marine unit, a helicopter and horses are also being used to search the forest which is part of the South Downs national park.

Mr Morris, a father of three, was a regular participant in the weekly Alice Holt run, a 5km route around the forest along tracks, trails and cycle paths.

Fellow runners were asked to check his profile on the running app Strava in the hunt for clues to his movements when he disappeared last Wednesday.

The diplomat was living with his wife and family nearby in Bentley, a pretty village that once featured in a popular TV documentary series The Village.

Mr Morris, a career diplomat, was waiting to take up a new job as high commissioner for Fiji.

Hampshire Police and search and rescue volunteers have been searching every day since Mr Morris vanished.

Police have urged residents to search their sheds, gardens and outhouses for any clues and to report any information that might help them.

It is still a missing person investigation and police said there was no indication of any crime.

A police spokesperson said they want to hear from any residents or businesses with CCTV  that could help with the investigation:

"The 52-year-old went missing from the Bentley area at 10.30am on 6 May.

"It is believed that Richard, who is described as being white with greying hair and a beard and a distinctive birthmark on his face, was running in the local area when he went missing.

"He was last seen wearing a blue long sleeved top with a half zip, black shorts, and blue trainers."

In 30 years working for the Foreign Office, Mr Morris has travelled the world and was, until last year, the UK's ambassador to Nepal, where he ran a marathon up Mount Everest.

He raised funds for a charity Changing Faces, of which he is a trustee. He has a distinctive, deep purple birthmark on his face.

The charity said it was "deeply concerned":

"Richard has been a fantastic and committed supporter of Changing Faces for many years, joining our board of trustees in July 2019.

"He is a much valued member of our team. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

During his time in Nepal, where he hosted Prince Harry during a royal visit, he told The Daily Telegraph: "I have a memorable face. When I'm among lots of ambassadors the Brit is the one people remember because of the way I look."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office described him as a "much-valued and well-liked colleague" and said it was "extremely worried" and hope he is found "safe and well soon."