POLICE say they have no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the disappearance of the deputy head of Durham School.

A major search of the County Durham coast is continuing in the hope of tracking down 50-year-old Mark Bushnell who has been a respected member of staff at Durham School, Durham City, for more than 20 years.

Police renewed their appeal for help in tracing Mr Bushnell and said there was no “criminal element” to their investigation.

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Chief Insp Andy Huddleston told a press conference at the school: “There is nothing at all to indicate any third party involvement.

“There is nothing of significance that we can put to it to say this is the reason why he has left home.

“The greatest concern I have is that there is no really good reason as to why he would go missing.”

Mr Bushnell, who lives with wife Joanna and sons Nathan, Jacob and Jonny in Durham City, left home at 11.30am on Sunday to drive to a laundrette.

His car was found near a picnic site at Blackhall Rocks, near Peterlee – the unwashed laundry was inside – and a passer-by later saw him in the area.

The coast has been searched from Seaham to Hartlepool by specialist police teams, the Coastguard, the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team and British Transport Police officers.

Headmaster Martin George said Mr Bushnell “seemed his normal self’’ when they both travelled to London on Saturday to watch the school rugby team, which included Mr Bushnell’s eldest son Jacob, play in the semi-finals of the Natwest Schools Cup.

He described Mr Bushnell as a “consumate professional’’.

He said: “Mark is a long-serving, highly-respected, loved colleague and friend.

“The whole Durham School community, pupils, parents, staff and former pupils, are deeply concerned for his welfare.

"We are extremely grateful for the way that the police and Andy have approached this, and we are working very closely with them in the interest of finding out where Mark is.”

Police revealed the Facebook page detailing the investigation had received more than 88,000 visits and that they had been inundated with offers to help with the search.

Mr Bushnell was last seen wearing brown jeans and a white and pink striped shirt.

Anyone who sees him should call police on the non emergency number 101.