Claudia Lawrence's mother responds to BBC's apology over threatening TV licence letter for her daughter

The BBC has issued an apology to the mother of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence who went missing 14 years ago after they “hounded” Claudia to pay her TV licence.

This Mother’s Day weekend is the 14th anniversary of Claudia going missing, but the BBC had continued to chase her despite the situation surrounding her whereabouts.

Joan Lawrence, 79, said: “It really, really upset me. I asked them to stop sending the letters but they continued.”

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In an interview with friend and journalist Christine Talbot, she said the letter was out of the norm as it was threatening Claudia with court action and it would go on her credit records.

Joan and Claudia LawrenceJoan and Claudia Lawrence
Joan and Claudia Lawrence

“They threatened to send people around to check,” she said. “I knew the police had previously kindly contacted them for me so I was surprised to get that.”

Joan told her friend and journalist Peter Barron - who highlighted the issue in the media - leading to an apology from BBC.

The BBC said that automated letters had been sent to the property in August last year which were not addressed directly to Claudia, but were standard letters relating to an unlicensed property.

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The broadcaster said: “When Claudia’s mother contacted us in September 2022 we should have put an immediate stop on all further correspondence. Unfortunately only a temporary pause was put in place and automated letters restarted in February this year. We are very sorry for the distress that this caused.”

Joan said: “I received a phone call yesterday from the BBC general’s office apologising. It wasn’t their fault because I am sure they didn’t know about it until this happened.”

A BBC spokesperson confirmed that they have apologised to Ms Lawrence directly for the upset caused and also reaffirmed to her that no further letters will be sent.

The spokesperson 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.”

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The BBC said they are looking at the circumstances of what happened to understand how it occurred and if it raises any specific issues they will look at necessary next steps.

Joan said that while she was saddened by the letters she hopes the BBC will review their policy.

She added: “It’s often the case that something really awful happens, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and some good comes out of it. I hope this really happens, I really do.”