Claudia Lawrence: family say police made "wrong decisions"

Claudia and her mother Joan Photo:

The mother and sister of missing Claudia Lawrence have strongly criticised the police investigation, saying a decision to focus on her private life may have cost vital clues.

Monday marks the four year anniversary since Claudia, a chef at York University, disappeared without trace.

In a frank interview joan and Ali told Christine of their fears that the police closed their minds to other options, dismissing evidence that didn't fit with their theory. Claudia's mother also accuses North Yorkshire Police of being rude and insensitive in their dealings with her and other potential witnesses.

Now, as the inquiry enters its fifth year, they have called for a new inquiry with a wider remit. But, they say even that may be too late and whoever is responsible for Claudia's disappearance may have got away with it.

Joan said: "I just feel anger that four years on there's someone sat there somewhere, probably seeing the publicity, seeing the pain the family's going through and ..they've got away with it. With abducting her or whatever it is. And I just think how can they live with themselves?"

Claudia was thirty five when she was last seen on March 18th 2009. She spoke to her both her parents on the phone that evening from her house in Heworth. telling them she planned to be up early to walk to her shift as a chef at York University at six am the next day. But she never turned up and the only thing missing from her house was her rucksack and her chef's whites.

The police believe the answer lies in Claudia's personal life, describing it as "complex". This led to speculative media headlines, all refuted by her family. But Ali and Joan fear this may only have diverted attention from other possibilities and the police may have missed vital clues.

Joan added: "The time, statistically, they said its very unlikely that a stranger was involved in this, and that was dismissed. I just feel that any sightings, or any pieces of information that are linked to someone who didn't know her should not be dismissed. They should be taken on board."

"I just think they focussed far too much on one thing. Lots of people have been in touch with me, who've been in touch with the police and they felt they didn't get anywhere. Some people said when thehy were interviewed that the police were very rude and I think it's so sad because respect is both ways.

"By the end of the first six months I just couldn't cope with the lack of sensitivity and the lack of tact from the police and I would say t them do you actually know how I get through every day? And they just said "no we don't."

"I'd like them to go back to the drawing board really and start from scratch. Although it's going to be very difficult at this stage. It's four years on - what can you remember about your everyday like four years onfrom a particular date? It's going to be harder to do now than it would have been four years ago."

But, with four years of no news, and a fifth looming, Joan and Ali feel any investigation with a wider remit would be worth it if it could finally end the agony of not knowing what happened to Claudia.

She added: "If we carry on like we have been for the last couple of years, where it's all been very quiet, then there's nothing to say it won't carry on like that for another two years...and we can't have that."

When approached by Calendar, a spokesman said: "North Yorkshire Police invited the National Policing Improvement Agency to conduct a second voluntary review of the investigation in 2010.

"Their report concluded that the investigation had been conducted with integrity and objectivity and that, where individuals had been subject to investigation, no investigative opportunities had been overlooked. The reviewers noted that good practice was evident in the investigation and that those strategies reviewed conformed to nationally approved standards."

See the interview on Calendar tonight at 6pm.