Claudia's Law to help families of missing people clears Parliament

The father of Claudia Lawrence, a chef who has been missing since 2009, has said he is "delighted" that a new law to help the families of missing people has cleared Parliament.

"Claudia's Law" will allow a missing person's relatives to look after financial affairs and property on their behalf after they have been gone for more than 90 days.

Peter Lawrence said the law was a fitting tribute to his beloved daughter, who disappeared on her way to work at the University of York eight years ago.

The 70-year-old said he had been astonished to discover there was no legal provision for families to look after the finances of their missing loved ones.

The retired solicitor estimates the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill could help 2,500 families.

He said: "I'm delighted - it's wonderful. It's been six years since we started trying to do this.

"It will take away so many of the worries you have. You are still dealing with the emotional impact of someone being missing without having to deal with this on top of it."

The bill is now going forward for Royal Assent after receiving an unopposed third reading by peers in the House of Lords.

Baroness Hamwee, who introduced the bill in the Lords, said she had a lump in her throat as she saw Mr Lawrence and other families looking down from the public gallery.

Describing how the change in the law would help families, she said: "They are so disadvantaged as the money just drains out if they can't stop direct debits or cancel bills.

"Now you can have someone from the family who can access the accounts."

The bill would allow a guardian to be appointed for a period lasting up to four years.

It began as a private members' bill brought forward by Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, who had fears it would not get through Parliament when Theresa May announced a snap General Election last week.

He said: "In terms of practicalities, yes it will help, but compared to the tragedy and the emotions and the suffering they are going through, it is a small thing.

"But it just relieves some anxiety and some stress, which is really important."

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