Was Claudia sex trafficked to Amsterdam? Film reveals new theories about the case

2 Dec 2019 @ 7.57 am
| Crime

New theories about what happened to Claudia Lawrence will be aired in a TV documentary this week.

These include the suggestion that the University of York chef could have been sex trafficked to Amsterdam.

Claudia Lawrence: Missing or Murdered, broadcast on Channel 5 tomorrow night (3 December) explores what might have happened to the 35-year-old more than ten years after her disappearance.

Although detectives have long believed she was murdered, the documentary puts forward the idea that she could still be alive and living in the Netherlands or Cyprus.

Sighting at a marina

Claudia’s mother Joan. Photograph: Nine Lives Media
Claudia disappeared in March 2009, shortly after she was believed to have left her home in Heworth Road to set off to work at the university.

Despite huge police resources being devoted to the case, her fate has never been known.

With evidence from a witness who has never spoken before this documentary examines all the theories of what has happened to Claudia Lawrence. 

Among those who talk on the film is Claudia’s mother Joan. She reveals for the first time that there was a linked potential sighting in the UK.

Mrs Lawrence, 72, says:

  • There was this gentleman from York who had gone to live at Hartlepool, contacted me. He was convinced he saw Claudia down by the marina.

    He recognised her from living in York. This gentleman told me there were boats going to Amsterdam daily from Hartlepool and she could have been on one of them.

A private detective also told police that he had seen Claudia in Amsterdam. Joan says she had heard about “some kind of white slave trade going on”, but Dutch police investigated the lead and found no trace of Miss Lawrence.

Cyprus theory

Claudia’s father Peter Lawrence
Another theory cited by the documentary was that Miss Lawrence had fled to Cyprus – potentially in the back of a van.

The last text sent to Claudia’s phone before she went missing was from a male friend in Cyprus, and she had visited the Cypriot city of Paphos with friend Jen King two years earlier.

Miss King tells the documentary: “I just can’t understand why she never moved abroad; she loved being away, she loved heat, loved having a tan. She particularly had a love for Cyprus.”

Police officers went out to the island to investigate.

A bar owner in Pathos who knows the man tells the documentary:

  • One of the theories going round is that possibly she had left the UK in a van and been brought across to Cyprus, smuggled into the country.

    To get someone from the UK to Cyprus in a van, you’ve got to go through a number of custom points, there would be checks.

    Would she have got found out on the way through, would she have lasted in the back of a van for that period of time? Probably unlikely.

Claudia’s passport was left at her home, and her father Peter Lawrence does not think she would have left Britain, saying: “I’m absolutely convinced that she didn’t disappear off to Cyprus or anywhere else.

“She was not a mastermind or a master criminal who would have been able to devise a way of going abroad not using a passport or bank account or anywhere else.”

The film also includes testimony from a colleague who says Claudia could have spent the night with a mystery man two days before her disappearance.

Claudia’s parents Peter and Joan describe their ten years of agony, and her closest friends describe the young woman they dearly miss. 

Colin Sutton, the detective who brought serial killer Levi Bellfield to justice, tracks the course of an investigation which still cannot supply an answer: is Claudia Lawrence missing, or murdered?
Claudia Lawrence: Missing or Murdered is on Channel 5, at 9.15pm on Tuesday 3 December, repeated on Thursday at 11.15pm