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Claudia Lawrence: Father of missing chef has died without knowing what happened to her

Written by on 15 February 2021

Peter Lawrence, whose daughter Claudia Lawrence has been missing since she disappeared from her York home almost 12 years ago, has died aged 74.

In a brief statement, his family said he died at St Leonard’s Hospice in the city following a short illness.

Claudia, 35, a chef at a University of York canteen, is assumed to have been murdered after failing to turn up to work in March 2009, leaving no obvious clues about what had happened to her.

In the years since, Mr Lawrence had helped detectives in two separate police murder investigations as they tried to piece together his daughter’s private life, and had repeatedly appealed for whoever knew what had happened to his daughter to speak out.

Peter Lawrence holds a photo of his daughter Claudia Image: Mr Lawrence holds a photo of his daughter in March 2019

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, who led the first investigation, said Claudia’s private life had involved “complexity and mystery”, and although two arrests were made, no charges were brought.

Four years after her disappearance, a cold case review was launched and a new investigation led by Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn resulted in six arrests, including four local men in their 50s.

When the Crown Prosecution Service announced in 2016 that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the four, Mr Malyn said his investigation had been “compromised by the reluctance of some, and refusal of others, to cooperate with police enquiries”.

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Throughout the two investigations, which are thought to have cost almost £1.5m, Mr Lawrence campaigned on behalf of his daughter and became an active supporter of the charity Missing People.

Peter Lawrence Image: Mr Lawrence died without knowing what happened to Claudia

A chorister at York Minster, with connections in the Church of England and the local Conservative party, Mr Lawrence enlisted the help of the then archbishop of York, John Sentamu, to keep the media spotlight on his daughter’s case.

A deeply private man, he sometimes struggled with media attention.

But with legal experience including a spell as a North Yorkshire Police solicitor prior to the creation of the Crown Prosecution Service, Mr Lawrence successfully lobbied for a new law to give the families of missing people the right to deal with their financial affairs after 90 days.

Dubbed Claudia’s Law, it was passed in April 2017 and the following year Mr Lawrence received an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for his role in founding the bill.

Peter Lawrence received an OBE medal for his work to support the relatives of missing people Image: Mr Lawrence received an OBE in 2018 for his work supporting relatives of missing people

Mr Lawrence’s family said in a statement: “It is sad that nearly 12 years after Claudia’s disappearance from York, Peter never found out what has happened to her.

“He was a very private person thrust into the full glare of the media, and despite a tireless campaign to find her he also selflessly devoted himself to helping others with missing relatives through the charity Missing People.”

They added: “Despite Peter’s death, the message remains the same – where is Claudia?

“Anyone with information should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.”

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