DORSET Police have defended their handling of the Gaia Pope investigation, amid claims a CCTV mix-up over the clocks going back led to arrests in the case.

Speaking to a national newspaper, pensioner Rosemary Dinch and her family, son Paul Elsey, age 49, and grandson Nathan Elsey, aged 19, say they were only held on suspicion of murder because their stories about Nathan’s whereabouts failed to tally with times on CCTV footage they’d supplied to detectives to help in the search.

However, in a lengthy statement issued to the Daily Echo, a Dorset Police spokesman strongly refuted this claim, explaining officers would have had “multiple grounds for arrest.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan said: "We will not be commenting on these (multiple grounds) publicly as this would set an unhelpful precedent and could prejudice Gaia’s upcoming coroner’s inquest and any other subsequent legal action.”

Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Deborah Elsey - Nathan’s mum and Paul’s sister, said “We gave them CCTV footage that showed Nathan going to his gran’s house round the corner.

“When they questioned him, the time didn’t match the time on the footage so they dragged him in for murder.

“It is ridiculous. The time on the CCTV didn’t match because the clocks went back and the time on there didn’t change.”

Paul’s dad, Greg, told the Echo the family are considering legal action.

Yesterday, he said: “They’re obviously still very upset about their treatment and what happened to Gaia, but they’re doing OK.”

Search teams discovered 19-year-old Gaia’s body near Swanage on Saturday, eleven days after she disappeared. Hundreds of local residents took part in the search for the teenager.

A post-mortem examination, carried out earlier this week, did not identify any injuries to suggest any other person was involved in her death. Cause of death is subject to the results of toxicology tests, which could take weeks to determine.

Dorset Police: 'We never commented on identities'

POLICE said they never commented on or confirmed the identities of the people arrested during the Gaia Pope investigation.

Detective Chief Superintendent Callaghan added: "We are aware that family members of those arrested provided confirmation of their identities to the media and media then chose to publish names, even without police confirmation.

"This is of course the right of those family members and the media, but it is not at the desire or request of the police.

"As the public would expect, we have a duty to investigate all potential lines of enquiry and must arrest people for any suspected offences, to ensure a fair legal process that protects those people.”

Town mayor Mike Bonfield said: “We’re all thinking of Gaia’s family and friends. We thank residents and those from further afield for supporting the emergency services through this very sad time for Swanage.”