BBC says sorry after missing Claudia Lawrence's home sent licence fee warnings and threats of a fine

15 March 2023, 11:51

The BBC has apologised after Claudia Lawrence's home was sent licence fee letters
The BBC has apologised after Claudia Lawrence's home was sent licence fee letters. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The BBC has apologised to the mother of Claudia Lawrence after licence fee letters were sent to her daughter's home.

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The missing university cook, who vanished in March 2009, was still getting letters at her property despite her mother Joan contacting the corporation in September last year.

Joan said it was causing "untold heartache".

Issuing the BBC's second high-profile apology this week, a spokesman for the broadcaster said: "We're very sorry for the distress caused to Mrs Lawrence and we will be apologising to her directly.

"We have taken steps to ensure no further letters are sent to the address."

Read more: BBC's climbdown is a ‘5-0 win’ for Gary Lineker after its 'ridiculous' stance on his migration tweets, former chief says

Automated letters were sent to the home in August 2022. It is understood they were not addressed to Claudia Lawrence specifically, but are typical letters sent to properties which don't have a licence.

Joan, 79, told the BBC what was happening in September, but after a brief pause the letters resumed in February.

Ms Lawrence was 35 when she vanished on her way to work at York University as she walked to work.

Claudia has been missing for more than a decade
Claudia has been missing for more than a decade. Picture: PA

Her mother, who is preserving Ms Lawrence's home and visits every two weeks, said there was a threat of court action and a £1,000 fine in the correspondence.

She told The Sun: "It's unbelievable.

"I've written to them to tell them what's happened, and the police are supposed to be sorting it out, but the letters still come. Receiving these letters causes me untold heartache."

She said: "You'd think they'd know by now, after all the publicity, wouldn't you?

Read more: Andrew Marr: BBC should ditch ludicrous idea that everyone who appears on the corporation is the face of it

Claudia Lawrence was being sent letters about the licence fee
An example of a licence fee enforcement letter. Picture: Alamy

"They must have sent two or three letters a year in all the time this has been happening.

"One was nasty and horrible. It threatened that not paying could affect her credit score."

The apology will be more fuel for critics of the BBC and the licence fee, especially as Match of the Day host Gary Lineker forced the broadcaster into a climbdown over his tweets about the Government's policy about migrants.

He was asked to step back from the show on Saturday after comparing it to 1930's Germany, but a huge boycott including his fellow pundits, commentators and presenters saw the BBC agree to review its rules about social media use.

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