Peter Lawrence, father of missing chef Claudia, dies aged 74

Taz Ali

The father of missing chef Claudia Lawrence, who is feared murdered, has died – without ever knowing what has happened to his daughter.

Peter Lawrence died on Thursday aged 74, in St Leonard’s Hospice, York following a short illness, his family said in a statement.

His death comes 12 years after his daughter Claudia went missing.

Peter Lawrence with his daughter Claudia
Claudia Lawrence has been missing since March 2009 (North Yorkshire Police/PA)

Police believe the 35-year-old from York – who has not been seen since March 18 2009 – was murdered, but her body has never been found.

Mr Lawrence’s family said in a statement: “It is sad that nearly 12 years after Claudia’s disappearance from York, Peter never found out what has happened to her.

“He was a very private person thrust into the full glare of the media, and despite a tireless campaign to find her he also selflessly devoted himself to helping others with missing relatives through the charity Missing People.”

Mr Lawrence campaigned for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia’s Law, which was passed in April 2017.

Peter Lawrence
Peter Lawrence campaigned tirelessly to find his missing daughter Claudia (Rick Findler/PA)

Claudia’s Law, which came into force in July 2019, allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.

Families can apply to the High Court for guardianship of the affairs of a missing person after they have disappeared for 90 days or longer.

It means they can make mortgage payments and handle bills on their behalf, whereas previously a missing person had to be declared dead in order for someone else to manage their assets for them.

Mr Lawrence said at the time that it was an “absolutely marvellous feeling” to see the proposals clear a major hurdle in the law-making process.

The retired solicitor campaigned tirelessly for the change since his daughter’s disappearance and received an OBE for his efforts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2018.

Peter Lawrence
Peter Lawrence (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

His family said: “Despite Peter’s death, the message remains the same – where is Claudia?

“Anyone with information should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.”

Mr Lawrence described being “hugely disappointed and depressed” when in January 2017 officers said they were scaling back the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance.

Miss Lawrence was reported missing after she failed to turn up for a 6am shift at work at the University of York.

Police previously said they “strongly suspect key and vital information” which would offer a breakthrough in the case of Claudia’s disappearance is being “withheld”.

Nine people have been questioned as part of the investigation, but no charges have ever been brought.

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