Twelve years on, there are people “‘at large’ in York” who know what happened to Claudia Lawrence – and “potentially remain a threat to the communities in which they and we live”.
These words of Martin Dales, a friend of Claudia’s late father Peter, on the eve of the 12th anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance.
Claudia was reported missing on March 18 2009 after she failed to turn up for a 6am shift at work as a chef at the University of York.
Police believe the then-35-year-old from York was murdered, but her body has never been found.
Miss Lawrence’s father Peter spent years campaigning for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia’s Law, which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.
The law was passed in April 2017 and came into force in 2019. However Mr Lawrence died last month without ever knowing what happened to his daughter.
Now on the eve of the 12th anniversary of Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, Martin Dales, a friend of Mr Lawrence, has again called on anyone with information to come forward.
Nine people questioned
Mr Dales said in a statement: “Despite the exhaustive efforts of Claudia’s late father Peter, family, friends and North Yorkshire Police, there are still no answers and it is tragic that Peter has died not knowing what has happened to her.
“More to the point in the light of there being no one brought to justice in the 12 years, there are still one or more people ‘at large’ in York or maybe somewhere else now who do know what has happened to Claudia and where she is and potentially remain a threat to the communities in which they and we live.”
Police previously said they “strongly suspect key and vital information” which would offer a breakthrough in the case of Claudia’s disappearance is being “withheld”.
Nine people have been questioned as part of the investigation, but no charges have ever been brought.
Jo Youle, chief executive of the charity Missing People – which Mr Lawrence worked closely with in campaigning for Claudia’s Law – echoed Mr Dales’s appeal for information.
She said: “It is now 12 years since Claudia Lawrence disappeared from York. Our thoughts are with Claudia’s family and loved ones as they mark another anniversary that no family wants to go through.
“The search for Claudia continues and anyone who may have information regarding her disappearance can call or text the charity Missing People confidentially, and for free, on 116 000 or online at www.missingpeople.org.uk/sightings.”
Tribute to Sarah
Mr Dales also paid tribute to Sarah Everard, the 33-year-old marketing executive from York who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3.
Her body was found hidden in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on March 10.
He said: “All our thoughts and condolences go to her family at this time of great tragedy and with the general public in their support of the Everards, which was so evident also when Claudia went missing in 2009.
“If Peter were still with us he would have said this as, although he was often sad and depressed by Claudia’s absence, he was eternally grateful for the support of people in York, the UK and various parts of the world too.”
Martin described the funeral of Peter Lawrence at York Crematorium last Thursday (11 March).
“It was a very moving service conducted by his long-standing friend and former Vicar Canon John Manchester who also gave a eulogy, with Peter’s daughter Ali Sims giving a personal tribute to her father,” he said.
Music included Jerusalem, sung by Katherine Jenkins, Wings, sung by the Missing People Choir of which Peter was a member, and Smile, sung by Nat King Cole.
“It was unfortunate that so few people were able to attend and it is hoped that there will be another occasion later in the year for more people to give thanks for Peter’s life and share memories.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.