THE best friend of Claudia Lawrence has hit back at a police suggestion that the missing woman’s killer could have been interviewed but got away with his crime as she called for an end to her torment.
Suzy Cooper stressed that she still had hope that Miss Lawrence is alive despite a massive police investigation stretching back over the last two years which has failed to find any trace of the York University chef.
And Miss Cooper countered the claims made by the officer leading the case, Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, that he believes he could already have spoken to Miss Lawrence’s killer.
Miss Cooper, an office administrator, 46, from York, said: “My first thought is that is quite random speculation. There is of course the possibility that he has spoken to Claudia’s abductor, but that makes it even worse to think that they have walked away and got away with it.
“The police have interviewed so many people that the law of probabilities means that someone who knows where Claudia is could have been spoken to. But I do think it is an odd statement to make.”
Miss Cooper was with Miss Lawrence’s father, Peter, yesterday to make an impassioned plea for information while standing outside York University’s Roger Kirk Centre, where the missing woman worked before vanishing.
Mr Lawrence, 64, a solicitor from Slingsby in North Yorkshire, admitted that he found it “hard to believe” that the ordeal has yet to end after two years.
He said: “It doesn’t get any easier as time goes on. In fact, in some ways it gets worse because of the length of time of not knowing what has happened to Claudia.
“I have said continuously throughout the past two years there is someone out there who does know what happened to Claudia, there’s someone out there who knows a member of their family or a neighbour or a workmate or a friend who they know has some information about Claudia’s disappearance.”
Mr Lawrence added: “They must know what we are going through and we really do need to be put out of this anguish which has plagued the family for the past two years.”
Miss Cooper also called for an end to the “daily torment” and urged anyone with information to contact detectives immediately.
She said: “I really hope that the person does have a conscience, and that he or she can put us all out of this misery – because someone out there does know what has happened to Claudia.”
Despite no specific suspects being identified, Det Supt Galloway confirmed earlier this week that he believes he could have “potentially” spoken to the person responsible for Miss Lawrence’s disappearance. But he declined to disclose the exact number of people who have been interviewed in the investigation.
A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman maintained that the detectives “sincerely hope” that Miss Lawrence is still alive, but have found no evidence that she is.
She added: “It would be professionally negligent of North Yorkshire Police to ignore the information gathered and treat the investigation as anything less than a suspected murder inquiry, utilising all the resources which are available to such a major inquiry.
“We have spoken to many people during the course of the investigation and it is the professional view of the senior investigating officer that there is potential that the person responsible for her disappearance has been interviewed.”
Miss Lawrence’s mother, Joan, from Norton in North Yorkshire, maintained this week that she believed her daughter is still alive.