Claudia’s law delay ‘just not good enough’

Claudia Lawrence with her father Peter
Claudia Lawrence with her father Peter
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THE YEARS pass but nothing gets easier for the family of missing York woman Claudia Lawrence.

Seven years after the chef disappeared, her father Peter Lawrence said he is still waiting for answers on exactly what happened back in March 2009 when his daughter failed to turn up to work at York University.

Mr Lawrence, a solicitor from Slingsby, North Yorkshire, said the passing years do not alter the depth of his grief.

Yet throughout his tragic ordeal he is working tirelessly to change the law so families can take control of their missing relative’s affairs.

Without a signature, he explains how banks cannot allow family members to sort out their finances, which in one horror case almost led to a woman having her home repossessed after her husband disappeared.

This week he travelled to Westminster to make his case to the Government once again that this change in legislation would enable the 2,500 families of missing people to breath a ‘sigh of relief’.

The Ministry of Justice have spent more than a year considering whether or not to pursue changes to guardianship following a consultation, and today Mr Lawrence has told The Yorkshire Post the delay is no longer good enough.

He said: “Things do take time but they don’t take this long.

“It’s extremely wearying just having to keep on plugging away at the Government.

“The fact there has been a General Election shouldn’t make a difference. There’s the same Prime Minister.

“MP Rachael Maskell said this will only take a few hours of Parliamentary time...but just think of the days and years that families like mine have been struggling.”

Being able to become a legal guardian of a missing person’s affairs would enable families to sort out mortgage payments, bills and the debts of their loved one.

With no income coming in, naturally financial obligations can soon spiral causing further heartache for those trying to simultaneously conduct searches and keep up momentum on a missing person case with the public.

The focus is now on new Justice Minister Michael Gove to offer Mr Lawrence some hope, and MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake will meet him later this month.

Conservative MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy and Labour’s York Central MP Ms Maskell are also making the case as often 
as they can with a series of 
Parliamentary debates in the pipeline.

Mr Hollinrake said: “People like myself and Julian have got this firmly in our sights. We will make sure we keep this in Parliament and we will keep pressuring until we get the legislation enacted.

“I want to pay tribute to the Lawrence family. They see the need for this to be there for over 2000 people who go missing every year.”

But away from the legal wranglings and campaign work, Mr Lawrence naturally continues to miss his daughter every single day.

He said: “It doesn’t change, it is always a question of waiting and not knowing.

“It’s the not knowing what happened is the worst thing and always has been. That doesn’t change from year to year.

“Nobody has seen sight nor sound of Claudia. I wouldn’t say nobody knows – somebody obviously does but they are not prepared to say so.”

Keeping Claudia in the public’s mind is the only way that a breakthrough can be made.

He said: “Perhaps we can just coax somebody to say what they know.

“It has happened before.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said delegating control of another person’s property is a significant step and they are keen to get the legislation right before bringing through a set of concrete plans.