On today’s This Morning, investigative journalist, Mark Williams-Thomas, asked the question ‘Where is Claudia Lawrence’ in the second instalment of his crime series, Unsolved.
Claudia’s father, Peter Lawrence, who has done all he can to keep the case in the public eye, said, “On the Wednesday evening, I spoke to her just before half past seven, the usual chatty conversation… That was the last contact I had with Claudia. Her friend telephoned me on the Friday morning to say that she was very worried she hadn’t heard from Claudia and that made me so worried that I jumped in the car and came across. I just had that sense that something was wrong… it’s the not knowing that still churns away at your stomach.”
In exclusive access to the home chef Claudia Lawrence left behind when she vanished in 2009, Mark showed how Claudia’s clothes are still hanging in her wardrobe and the dusty shelves remain untouched. Mark said, “Since the day she disappeared only the police and her parents have been been allowed in. Even her coat still hangs on the back of her bedroom door… We know she returned here on the Wednesday night, we don’t know if she stayed or if she left the following morning.”
Mark added, “My police contacts are very clearing telling me that they believe those responsible for Claudia’s disappearance and murder have been in this house. Police recently went back into her home and used the latest forensic technology in the hope of uncovering new evidence. The Nags Head pub became the central part of the police investigation, it was only a few doors away from Claudia’s house and she was a regular visitor.”
One of Claudia’s close friends, Jennifer King, who worked behind the bar at the Nags Head remains hopeful that she is alive. She said, “I knew Claudia for three or four years and I lived with her a year of that time as well. When she first went missing, I did think that she was alive and that she’d come back in a few days’ time. And then I thought she was dead. And then recently I’ve got to think she might be alive again. We are just in a constant cycle of grief - I’ve been angry with her [thinking] if she’s got herself into a situation, I’ve been upset, I’ve been in denial, and I’ve just accepted it… but then it all comes round again because we we just don’t know. It’s painful. I was just Claudia’s friend and it's painful for me, I can’t imagine what her parents are going through and her sister.”
Mark later added, “Six years after her disappearance police released what could be a very significant piece of information. But why did it take so long? There is a crucial piece of CCTV footage of a man walking down a path wearing dark clothing carrying a bag, and just over a minute later, the same man returns towards the corner where Claudia lives. Is that man vital to the inquiry? Because he still hasn’t been traced… even after eight years. There are still a number of sightings unaccounted for. One of those is a female, matching the description of Claudia seen talking to a male with a cigarette in his left hand. Those people are still unidentified.”
For Claudia’s mother Joan, every day is still a struggle. Joan explained to Mark, “I light a candle every night for Claudia because it’s a form of prayer… I [live this] all day, every day, because no matter how busy I am, no matter what I do, it never goes away.”
Following the meetings, Mark Williams-Thomas revealed to Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford his thoughts in the This Morning studio. Mark said, “Her mum gave us access to the house, really to keep the story alive and keeping it in the public interest and whilst the police have scaled back massively, their response is that they will take any new information on, and will act upon that.”
He added, “They’ve done an awful lot - the initial stages of the investigation were very poor - they reviewed it in 2013 and I have to say, the new level of investigation has been very, very thorough and I’ve looked at that and have spoken to the officers - as well as people known to Claudia - and I believe this case is solvable. I think there are two individuals involved in her disappearance and I think over time, when they either get into a position where they fall out with loved ones or they talk loosely, we’ll get into a position where we’ll be able to solve this.”
“What we are talking about here, is people known to Claudia and those are the people that hold the vital clues, and even now, there are people not telling the truth. It's those people that they need to crack… and I hope by doing this, and keeping it in the public’s interest, we must never forget the disappearance of Claudia, never forget her story, and keep talking about it and hopefully one day we’ll get enough to solve and bring those people responsible to justice.”
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