Peter Lawrence seeks help of Lord Edward Faulks over Presumption of Death Act

Gazette & Herald: Peter Lawrence Peter Lawrence

THE father of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence has met a senior Government minister to discuss delays to the Presumption of Death Act.

The Act, which gives families of missing people the ability to deal with their financial and legal affairs, was agreed last year by Parliament and signed off by the Queen, but has still not been brought into force.

Peter Lawrence was in London this week and was introduced to Lord Edward Faulks – the Minister of Justice with portfolio for missing peoples’ affairs – by Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty.

Mr Lawrence, whose daughter Claudia went missing in 2009 at the age of 35, said: “It is clear that he is personally committed to seeing the Presumption of Death Act brought into force as well as proceeding with the promised consultation on Guardianship of peoples’ financial and legal affairs, and he brought me up to date on the progress of both. On behalf of the thousands of families waiting for the ability to manage their missing family members’ affairs, I welcome this commitment.”

The meeting came in the same week York Outer MP Julian Sturdy asked the House of Commons for a statement on the progress of the Act.

On Thursday, Mr Sturdy said: “The legislation is of the utmost importance to the families of those whose loved ones have gone missing and the delay only serves to compound the anguish felt by those loved ones.”

Leader of the House Andrew Lansley said: “I am sure that Members across the House will be aware to some of the cases that have given rise to considerable distress and which gave rise, rightly, to the House’s approval for the Presumption of Death Act.

“I will, if I may, talk to my honourable friends at the Ministry of Justice and see what steps are being taken to bring the Act into force.”

Mr Lawrence said: “I am also very grateful for the support of both Nigel Adams and Julian Sturdy in continuing to support the plight of relatives of missing people in sorting out their affairs.”

Mr Sturdy said: “I am pleased to be able to raise such an important local issue on behalf of my constituents. I was on the Public Bill Committee for this important piece of legislation, which will introduce a new court based procedure for the families left behind.

“Currently it is difficult if not impossible for such families to make decisions about the missing person’s estate, and I hope the common sense proposals will be implemented soon to make the lives of grieving relatives easier.”

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