Police appeal for new information on disappearance of Uni of York chef Claudia Lawrence

Claudia went missing 15 years ago after she failed to arrive for work in 2009

15 years after the disappearance of University of York chef Claudia Lawrence, the police are once again asking anyone with information to get in touch and end her family’s “pain”.

Claudia was 35 at the time of her disappearance and failed to arrive for work at the university on 18th March 2009.

Although her body has never been found, police believe she was murdered and it has since been said that “silence” was the only barrier to solving Ms Lawrence’s disappearance.

Claudia’s case remains unsolved 15 years on since her disappearance and no charges have ever been brought.

On the day she went missing, Claudia was last seen at approximately 15:05 GMT as she walked towards her home on Heworth Road, York. Her disappearance prompted what has been called the “biggest and most complex missing person inquiry” in the history of North Yorkshire Police.

Wayne Fox, senior investigating officer from North Yorkshire Police, said that “silence” of those in the know was the only reason that her disappearance was solved.

Speaking with Claudia’s mother, Joan, and her father, Peter, in mind, Wayne Fox said: “For such pain and despair to continue for 15 years without knowing where your child is, or what happened to them, that is far beyond what any mum or dad should ever have to live with.”

He added: “Joan has lived with unending uncertainty and trauma since the last conversation she had with Claudia on the telephone on the evening of 18 March 2009.

“I also think about Claudia’s dad, Peter, who tragically passed away three years ago without ever knowing what happened to his daughter.” Before he died, Peter had said that not knowing what happened to Claudia was “the hardest thing for the family to bear.”

Peter had campaigned for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia’s Law, before his death in 2021. The bill was passed in April 2017 and came into force two years later. In 2018, he was appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his successful campaigning over his daughter’s disappearance.

Joan has previously said to the BBC that her faith had helped her cope with “all the speculation” during her disappearance.

Speaking to the BBC in a new podcast, Joan revealed a plan to put up her daughter’s house for sale, hoping it could “be used in some way for a charitable purpose” such as for the homeless or for someone seeking refuge from abuse.

Wayne Fox said that Claudia’s disappearance was even more saddening as she would have celebrated her 50th birthday on 27th February. He said: “That she has been denied the opportunity of fulfilling her potential and living life in a way that made her happy, be that in career aspiration, travelling the world, or the possibility of raising children, is tragic in the extreme.”

Specialist officers could be seen searching the exposed lake bed at Sand Hutton back in 2021.

Wayne continued: “Every new piece of information is carefully assessed against the significant volumes of material that has been gathered over the full course of the investigation.

“If a specific line of inquiry is developed from receipt of new information, and grows in significance, we will take decisive action, as we did when extensively searching the gravel pits at Sand Hutton in August 2021.

“I hope the scale of activity which took place within that operation clearly demonstrates that, if information is capable of being effectively developed, North Yorkshire Police will work tirelessly in our continued search for the truth.”

Urging individuals who may know details of Claudia’s disappearance, Wayne said: “Silence from the people who know, or may suspect, what happened to Claudia but have, so far, for reasons only known to them, been unable to come forward to the police or even pass on information to Crimestoppers anonymously.

“There may be many reasons as to why they have been unable to come forward. However, my plea to them on reaching 15 years of living with the knowledge you have is to do the right thing and make a report.”

Featured image via North Yorkshire Police

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