Claudia Lawrence's mum expresses dismay as police search ends with no new clues

The mother of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has expressed her dismay after the latest police search in connection with her daughter's disappearance failed to provide any new clues.

On Sunday, detectives investigating the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia concluded their search of Sand Hutton Gravel Pits.

In a statement, Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox, Head of the Major Investigation Team, confirmed that nothing of obvious significance was located during searches of part of the wooded area and in the smaller of the two lakes.

35-year-old Claudia - who lived in the Heworth area of York and worked at York University - was last seen on March 18 2009.

  • Claudia's mother Joan gives her reaction to today's news:

Detectives believe she was murdered, although no body has ever been found. Claudia's mother, Joan, described a "terrible fortnight" spent waiting for the latest search to end.

She added: "We’re no further on then day one. That’s how it feels to me. It's been a terrible fortnight, absolutely dreadful," she said. "I spoke to my daughter and she didn’t even build her hopes up at all, she said, 'Mum, we've been down this road before'."

North Yorkshire Police say a small number of items were recovered during the two-week search but added that whilst these items are being assessed for their forensic potential, any relevance to Claudia’s disappearance has yet to be established.

Martin Dales, a friend of Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter Lawrence, said: “This is very sad news that, despite these recent detailed and extensive searches by the police, there remains no further information on the whereabouts of Claudia Lawrence for the 150 months she has now been missing.

The timeline of the 12-year hunt for missing Claudia Lawrence

March 18 2009

Ms Lawrence was last seen at around 3.05pm walking towards her home.

Ms Lawrence spoke to her mum, Joan, and dad, Peter, that evening over the telephone. They both said she was in good spirits.

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March 19 2009

Ms Lawrence fails to turn up to her 6am shift. In the evening, she also doesn't attend the Nags Head pub, where she had previously agreed to meet her friend.

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March 20 2009

Peter Lawrence reports his daughter missing to North Yorkshire Police.

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April 24 2009

Detectives say that Ms Lawrence’s disappearance is being treated as a suspected murder investigation. A £10,000 reward is offered for information that could lead to the conviction of those responsible.

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May 13 2014

A 59-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of murder. He is released on police bail and eventually released without charge six months later.

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March 19 2014

Five years on from Ms Lawrence’s disappearance, officers searching her home discover the fingerprints of people who have still not come forward to the investigation.

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March 23 2015

A man in his 50s is arrested on suspicion of murdering Ms Lawrence and released on police bail the following day.

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April 22 2015

Three more men, all in their 50s and from the York area, are arrested on suspicion of murder and are released on bail.

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September 17 2015

A file of evidence on four men arrested on suspicion of murder is sent by North Yorkshire Police to the Crown Prosecution service (CPS) so it can consider whether to bring charges. The CPS decides the men won't be charged.

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January 17 2017

Mr Lawrence says he is “hugely depressed and disappointed” as the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance is scaled down.

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July 31 2019

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia’s Law, came into force. This followed years of campaigning by Mr Lawrence and allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.

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February 15 2021

The death of Peter Lawrence is announced.

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August 24 2021

A new search operation is announced at the gravel pits at Sand Hutton, about eight miles from York.

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“This is totally unsatisfactory and grossly unfair and cruel on all who care about Claudia."

Teams of police search experts, specially trained search dogs, divers and forensic archaeologists took part in the search, which began on 24 August.

Det Supt Fox, who is leading the enquiry, said that separate strands of information had been received by detectives investigating Claudia’s disappearance.

He said: “When we assessed these separate and independently-sourced pieces of information against the wealth of information already generated during the last 12 years, we found they correlated with other information pointing to the area of Sand Hutton.

“We then consulted a number of national experts in various different disciplines and concluded that we could not discount the possibility that Sand Hutton Gravel Pits could have a major relevance in explaining what happened to Claudia.

Police searching near the gravel pits at Sand Hutton Credit: PA

He added: “As a result of the publicity surrounding the last two weeks, members of the public have come forward with new information for which I am grateful. This will be assessed and investigated in the coming days and weeks.

“In the light of some media speculation, I would like to stress, however, that we are not liaising with any other police force in relation to these new lines of enquiry.”

“As I hope the events of the last two weeks demonstrate, we are committed to establishing what happened to Claudia and bringing closure for her family. You cannot fail to be moved by the ongoing suffering of a mother who does not know what has happened to her daughter. I again repeat the request to those who know what has happened to Claudia, to do the right thing, come forward and help end the torment of Claudia’s family.”