MURDER squad detectives investigating the disappearance of a time share salesman are working on new information received after a public appeal for help, the Daily Echo can reveal.

They asked for people's help in a bid to piece together the last movements of Kevin John Palmer, 27, who went missing in Bishop's Waltham four and half years ago.

Det Sgt Jim Park revealed that telephone calls from members of the public since the appeal two days ago have proved valuable to the Operation Arkholme probe.

He said: "We have had some good help from members of the public following the appeal. They have given us some interesting snippets of information.

"Put into context with the whole picture, it may help us. It is a big jigsaw puzzle and we will take all of the pieces and put them together."

Mr Palmer, who is from Sunderland, returned to the UK from Spain on March 12, 1999 and his family expected him to travel to the North East.

Detective Inspector Alison Scott said police are baffled as to why the married father of one ended up in Hampshire and need to find out the reason.

She said the latest developments had come as a shock to Mr Palmer's family.

"They are upset by the knowledge we have commenced a murder inquiry, but glad that after four years of wondering what happened to him, this has come to light."

Detectives are keen to trace a taxi driver who picked Mr Palmer up from the Abshot Hotel and Country Club along with two other men and a woman on Saturday, March 13 at 1am.

During the journey a row erupted and the three men left the vehicle and had a fight. Two got back in and the taxi continued its journey back to Hoe Road, Bishop's Waltham. It is suspected that Mr Palmer's body was later brought to a house in the road where police have been searching for clues for 11 days.

Det Insp Park urged the taxi driver to come forward.

He added: "I would appeal to the driver to come forward otherwise it is the start of a long laborious inquiry to find him.

"We have lists of taxi drivers and it will take a lot of shoe leather and doors to knock but we are confident that we will find the person.

"The fight is a significant incident and even over a period of time the driver is still likely to remember it."

Police have arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of murder. He has been bailed pending further inquiries.