POLICE have issued an apology after it emerged a body found in a river was not that of a Ramsey grandad who went missing seven weeks ago.

POLICE have apologised to a family after wrongly telling them that an elderly relative had been found dead in a river.

Officers believed that a body found in Whittlesey on Saturday was that of 83-year-old Reginald Howse who has been missing from his Ramsey home for seven weeks.

A man's body was found by a member of the public in the water near the Foxhound pub in Ramsey Road at 2.30pm. Spartan Rescue recovered the body.

Police thought the person was Mr Howse and informed his family.

They also issued a press release to the media at 8.23am on Monday before the family had identified the body.

However, at 9.46am the same morning police issued an urgent correction stating that the body in the river was not that of Mr Howse. Instead, it is believed to be a 73-year-old man from Whittlesey who hadn't been seen since the previous day. They then visited Mr Howse's family to say it wasn't his body in the water.

In the correction, a police spokesman said: "Following new information and further enquiries, we have discovered that the man's body found in Whittlesey on Saturday was not that of Reginald Howse.

"Reginald, who has been missing since May, was last seen in Whittlesey.

"The body of an elderly man was discovered in Whittlesey on Saturday afternoon and matched the description of missing Reginald. At this time no other people, matching this description, had been reported missing.

"Reginald's family were made aware of the discovery. However, at 11.20pm last night (Sunday) a 73-year-old man was reported missing from the Whittlesey area.

"Police now believe the identity of the body to be that of the 73-year-old man and not missing Reginald.

"As soon as this information came to light officers visited Mr Howse family to explain the situation and apologised for any distress caused to them.

"Mr Howse remains missing and we continue to appeal for any information about his whereabouts."

Speaking to The Hunts Post, Reg's daughter Jenny Lee, of Brookfield Way, Bury, described the police mistake as "human error" and said her condolences go out to the family of the Whittlesey man. Before she knew it wasn't her dad, Mrs Lee phoned family and friends to tell them the sad news.

She said: "The police seemed so sure on Saturday that it was my dad. But then on Monday a police inspector called round to say it wasn't dad and to apologise.

"We have had time to prepare ourselves for something like this but it must have been a huge shock to the other family and our thoughts are with them."

Mrs Lee, 55 said she had doubts that it was her father even before the inspector's visit.

She said: "We had our doubts as we didn't identity a body and the police said the man had not been in the water very long.

"But a number of officers and a doctor at the scene had a picture of dad and they all thought it was him. Apparently the other man looks just like my father."

She said her family are continuing their search for Reg.

"We're back to square one and dad is still missing," said Mrs Lee. "It's a rollercoaster of emotions and everyday that passes with us not knowing where he is gets worse."

Reg is described as slim, about 5ft 7ins, with grey hair and was last seen wearing a brown three-quarter length jacket and brown trousers.

INFORMATION: Anyone with information on Reg's whereabouts should contact police on 0345 4564564.