Police call on those 'staying silent' on Claudia Lawrence case to come forward 15 years after disappearance

18 March 2024, 09:37 | Updated: 18 March 2024, 09:42

Police have made a desperate plea for information about the disappearance of university chef Claudia Lawrence 15 years after she went missing
Police have made a desperate plea for information about the disappearance of university chef Claudia Lawrence 15 years after she went missing. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Police have made a renewed plea for information about the disappearance of university chef Claudia Lawrence 15 years after she went missing.

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Ms Lawrence was first reported missing after she failed to show up for work at York University in March 2009.

Police have long treated the chef's disappearance as a murder inquiry - with the case becoming one of the most well-known unsolved crimes.

Police are now calling for those with information to break their silence on the 15th anniversary of Ms Lawrence's disappearance.

Ms Lawrence was 35 when she went missing and would have celebrated her 50th birthday in February.

Ms Lawrence was first reported missing after she failed to show up for work at York University in March 2009
Ms Lawrence was first reported missing after she failed to show up for work at York University in March 2009. Picture: Supplied

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Acting Assistant Chief Constable for North Yorkshire Police Wayne Fox reiterated on Monday that the inquiry was not closed.

He said: "Having been appointed senior investigating officer in October 2020, I am fully aware of the complexities that exist in this inquiry, which sadly has to be treated as that of a suspected murder.

"However, the single barrier to unlocking the answers for Claudia's loved-ones and bringing those responsible for her disappearance to justice, remains the same - silence.

"Silence from the people who know, or may suspect, what happened to Claudia but have, so far, for reasons that are only known to them, been unable to come forward to the police or even pass on information to Crimestoppers anonymously.

"There may be many reasons as to why they have been unable to come forward, however, my plea to them on reaching 15 years of living with the knowledge you have is to do the right thing and make a report.

"You can help bring an end to the pain and uncertainty for Claudia, her mum and all who love her."

Two separate investigations have been launched, questioning nine people, but no charges have ever been brought.

Peter Lawrence holds a photograph of his daughter Claudia Lawrence, ahead of the the 10th anniversary of her disappearance, March 12, 2019
Peter Lawrence holds a photograph of his daughter Claudia Lawrence, ahead of the the 10th anniversary of her disappearance, March 12, 2019. Picture: Alamy

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The most recent operation in relation to the disappearance came in 2021 when police spent several days conducting an extensive search of flooded gravel pits at Sand Hutton, near York.

The acting assistant chief constable said the investigation has been in a "reactive phase" since 2017 but he said: "I again want to make it clear that the investigation is not closed.

"Even after such a passage of time, our Cold Case Review Unit continues to receive information.

"Every new piece of information is carefully assessed against the significant volumes of material that has been gathered over the full course of the investigation."

He said the scale of the 2021 operation "clearly demonstrates that, if information is capable of being effectively developed, North Yorkshire Police will work tirelessly in our continued search for the truth."

He said his thoughts were with Ms Lawrence's remaining parent, her mum Joan, "as we enter the 15th year since" she was reported missing.

I cannot begin to understand the pain that Joan and her family feel every single day.

"For such pain and despair to continue for 15 years without knowing where your child is, or what happened to them, well that is far beyond what any mum or dad should ever have to live with.

"Joan has lived with unending uncertainty and trauma since the last conversation she had with Claudia on the telephone on the evening of March 18 2009."

Mr Fox said he was also thinking of Ms Lawrence's father Peter, who campaigned for his daughter to be found, but died three years ago without ever knowing what happened to her.

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