Father of missing Claudia Lawrence dies never knowing daughter's whereabouts

Peter Lawrence
Peter Lawrence, the father of Claudia Lawrence Credit: PA Images

The father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has died, after a 12-year campaign to find out what happened to his daughter.

Peter Lawrence OBE, who was 74, passed away at a hospice in York on Thursday, following a short illness, his family said in a statement.

His daughter vanished on March 18, 2009, after a shift at the University of York, where she worked as a chef.

Police believe the 35-year-old was murdered, but her body has never been found. Peter Lawrence led what friends have described as a "tireless campaign" to find her.

Peter Lawrence with a table-top box displaying images of his missing daughter. Credit: PA Images

In a statement, his family said: "It is sad that nearly 12 years after Claudia’s disappearance from York, Peter never found out what 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 trough the charity Missing People."

Mr Lawrence's friend and spokesperson Martin Dales said: "He will be sorely missed by his family and friends who request privacy at this sad time."

Mr Lawrence lobbied the government to introduce the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia's Law, which allows relatives to take control of the financial affairs of their missing loved one.

Families can apply for the guardianship of the affairs of a person who has been missing for 90 days or more.

Claudia's Law came into force in July 2019. Mr Lawrence, a retired solicitor who worked tirelessly on the campaign, was awarded an OBE for his work in 2018.

Speaking at the time, Mr Lawrence said it was an "absolutely marvellous feeling" to see the proposals take a step closer to becoming law.

Peter Lawrence was made an OBE for his work supporting the relatives of missing people Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

In January 2017, police announced there were scaling back the investigation into Claudia's disappearance. Mr Lawrence described being "hugely disappointed and depressed" by the news.

Nine people have been questioned as part of the investigation, but no one has ever been charged.

Officers previously said they "strongly suspect key and vital information" surrounding the 35-year-old's disappearance is being "withheld."

In a statement, Mr Lawrence's family appealed for anyone with information to contact North Yorkshire Police. "Despite Peter's death, the message remains the same - where is Claudia?".

  • Martin Dales, a friend of the family, paid tribute to Mr Lawrence's "tireless" and "selfless" campaigning:

John Sentamu, the former Archbishop of York, said: "The family and friends of Peter are in my prayers following the sad loss of Peter.

"It is a great sadness that Peter has died without knowing what happened to his beloved daughter Claudia. May he rest in peace and rise in glory."

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, who campaigned alongside Mr Lawrence to bring 'Claudia's Law' into force, paid tribute to his "determination."

"Although Peter's search for Claudia was in vain, he had some other very notable successes and that was particularly around a couple of pieces of legislation.

"The presumption of death act, which he got changed so that you could move forward with the affairs of people who'd been missing for some time.

"And also the guardianship bill which allows loved ones to look after the financial affairs of those who've gone missing, very shortly after they've gone missing...

Kevin Hollinrake MP, Peter Lawrence and Baroness Hamwee holding a copy of Claudia's Law, April 2017. Credit: PA Images

"Before the legislation, you just couldn't do that. I was lucky enough to work with Peter to bring that legislation forward.

"It was one of those things that just got stuck on the political conveyer belt and he was so persistent, so determined, he gave me his full support - very polite, very respectful, but he wasn't going to take no for an answer, quite rightly..."