Friends of Claudia Lawrence ‘hoping for answers’ 10 years after disappearance

By Amy Murphy, Press Association

Friends of missing chef Claudia Lawrence have said they hope they will start “finding answers” as they gathered to mark the 10-year anniversary of her disappearance.

Miss Lawrence, who was 35 when she disappeared, has not been seen since March 18 2009.

Police believe was been murdered, although no body has ever been found.

On Monday afternoon, friends of Miss Lawrence gathered at York Minster to light a candle and appeal for information.

Hazel Dales, Martin Dales, and Suzy Cooper at York Minster (Danny Lawson/PA)

Martin Dales, a family friend who spoke on behalf of Miss Lawrence’s father Peter, who did not attend due to illness, said: “We hope very much that we will start finding those answers that we have been needing to find all these years of what has happened to Claudia.

“It’s a poignant occasion, it’s a big occasion. We want it to be successful in finding the answers we haven’t had for so many years.”

Mr Dales was joined at the minster by his wife Hazel and Miss Lawrence’s friends Suzy Cooper, 54, and Jen King, 34.

North Yorkshire Police earlier said the search for the University of York chef could be being hampered by people withholding vital information.

Detectives said they are still waiting for information from the public to help them make major progress.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn said: “It remains the case that we strongly suspect key and vital information is being withheld that could provide the breakthrough that we all want to see, not least Claudia’s heartbroken family.

“Unless we get information or intelligence to suggest that Claudia came to harm as a result of an opportunity taken by someone unconnected to her, me and the team still strongly believe the answer lies locally.

“As with some recent cold case successes, the breakthrough has come from the public and we still have confidence that this will be the case.”

Peter Lawrence with a photograph of his daughter Claudia (Danny Lawson/PA)

Following Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, searches were initially focused on the route between her home in Heworth Road and the University of York.

Hundreds of officers from various forces were involved but the investigation was scaled back over the years.

Mr Malyn added that the investigation has been hindered by a lack of CCTV around Miss Lawrence’s home, as well as the fact that she had neither a smartphone nor a social media profile when she vanished.

The force said members of the public are still coming forward with information.

Despite being “well intentioned”, much of this is based on speculation or theory, Mr Malyn said.

“The call we really want is the one that helps piece together the parts of the jigsaw we already know regarding her last movements and people she associated with and places frequented,” he added.

Nine people have been arrested or interviewed under caution in connection with the investigation and police submitted files to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to a number of individuals, but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.