THE parents of murdered teenager Shafilea Ahmed last night spoke of their relief after being released from police bail.

Iftikhar, 44, and Farzana, 41, spent six months on bail after being arrested on suspicion of kidnapping their 17-year-old daughter.

Cheshire detectives yesterday said it would be inappropriate to retain Mr and Mrs Ahmed on bail any longer following a thorough investigation.

Speaking from their home in Great Sankey, Warrington, taxi-driver Iftikhar said he hoped his family could now be left alone to grieve.

He added: "Naturally we are relieved, but it has not quite sunk in yet exactly what it means.

"We only found out about this thanks to the police statement to the media. I don't understand why we were not told before the Press.

"We are consulting with our solicitor in the hope that we can find out how the police investigation will continue from now on.

"I hope the detectives get on with their job of investigating Shafilea's death with an open mind and leave us alone to grieve for our daughter properly."

The law student disappeared from her home in Liverpool Road last September.

Her mother and father, who had not reported her missing, were arrested at their home in a dawn raid by Cheshire police in December.

Two months later, Shafilea's badly decomposed body was discovered in a river in Kendal, Cumbria.

Last month, the Ahmeds' solicitor, Milton Firman, publicly challenged murder squad detectives to either charge his clients or set them free.

Yesterday, he received a letter notifying them they were not required to answer police bail later this month.

Last night, he said the Ahmeds were angry, adding the episode had "seriously damaged" relations with the police.

He said: "What the police have been on is a fishing expedition. They have jumped to conclusions based upon what they perceived as ethnic aspects of this case.

"They have not been treated as English people would have been.

"In the early stages (of the investigation) they closed their eyes to other possibilities."

A Cheshire police spokeswoman said: "The police investigation into the matter of Shafilea Ahmed is ongoing with many active lines of inquiry still being progressed.

"In the circumstances, and with regard to the necessary length of time involved to properly and thoroughly investigate all relevant lines of inquiry, it is inappropriate to retain these two people on police bail."

Shafilea's parents were the last people to see her alive at the family home on September 11.

Before she disappeared, it emerged Shafilea had been on a trip to Pakistan where she was to take part in an arranged marriage.

She drank bleach in protest and had to undergo emergency medical treatment to keep her alive.

Agents have been employed to work on behalf of Cheshire Police in Pakistan, where the Priestley College student's family come from, but they have been unable to turn up any evidence about her death.

Mr Firman said he hoped relationship between the police and his clients had not been irreparably damaged and said the Ahmeds still held information which could be useful to the police.

He said: " I think there are important details regarding her leaving the house and the friends she was mixing with that would clearly be crucial. There was a history here, she had left before." ________________________________________________________________________________________