POLICE searching for missing Durham teacher Mark Bushnell have found a body on a beach close to where he was last seen.

Officers were called to the beach near Blackhall Rocks, Peterlee, at around 7.15am this morning (Saturday, March 22) by a member of the public.

Police have been working with the Coastguard to recover the man’s body, and a formal identification has yet to be carried out.

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The family of Mr Bushnell are being informed of any developments.

Superintendent Bill Dutton, of Durham Police, said: “It looks like the body has been in the water for some period of time.

“I would like to thank the members of the public who have assisted with the inquiry. The response has been even bigger than normal and media reporting has helped generate that interest.”

The 50-year-old, who is deputy headteacher of Durham School, went missing from his home in the city on Sunday, March 9.

The father-of-three has worked at the independent school for more than 20 years.

He left home at 11.30am in his grey Citroen C3 saying he was taking the washing to a laundrette as the family washing machine was broken.

When he did not return, he was reported missing a few hours later and the car, containing bags of laundry, was found in a car park at Blackhall Rocks early the next morning.

Police have said there was no trigger for his disappearance and that there is no "criminal element".

Mr Bushnell was described as a "consumate professional" who was well respected and loved in the school, where staff, pupils and parents had been shocked by his disappearance.