PETER Lawrence never gave up on the search for his daughter Claudia who went missing 12 years ago next month.

Claudia, 35, who lived in Heworth, was seen on CCTV on her way home from work as a chef at the University of York and failed to arrive for her 6am shift the next day.

In an interview with the Gazette & Herald to mark the 10th anniversary of his daughter’s disappearance, Mr Lawrence admitted for the first time publicly that he feared she was dead and he would never see her again.

He said: “There was always some doubts privately, but now I have to admit that I may never see Claudia again. It is hard to say that, and I have never told anyone that before. But I have to come to terms with it, as it may very well be the truth.”

Mr Lawrence, who has another daughter, Ali, and was separated from his ex-wife, Joan, campaigned for the introduction of what has become known as Claudia’s Law - which allows families of people missing for more than 90 days to deal with their legal and financial affairs.

Mr Lawrence received an OBE after he was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2018 for his work in founding the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill.

Previously, the disappearance of a person did not affect the ownership or control of their property and financial affairs. Claudia’s Law enables a relevant individual to be named as a guardian by a court 90 days after a person has gone missing.

Mr Lawrence moved to York nine-and-half years ago from Slingsby, near Malton. 

He retired in 2018 from his profession as a solicitor, finishing his career at the law firm, Ware and Kay, which is based in Peasholme Green in York.

After his daughter’s disappearance, Peter put out numerous appeals in the hope that someone would come forward with answers to let Claudia’s family and friends know what happened to her.

Mr Lawrence continued to appeal for those withholding information to come forward up until his death. In 2010, he told The Gazette & Herald: “I’ll never give up hope, and I’ll never give up this campaign.”

In 2018, Mr Lawrence received an OBE in recognition for his services to the families of missing people, which he said he was “shocked,” to be awarded.

Mr Lawrence was involved in plans to create new laws to help families look after the affairs of missing loved ones who have not been seen for 90 days or longer.

The legislation - known as Claudia’s Law - was given Royal Assent in Parliament in April 2017, following six years of campaigning by the Missing People charity and Peter. .

The legislation allows families or friends to become legal guardian for a person’s affairs while they are missing and manage their financial arrangements.

“I got a letter from the Cabinet Office and I was in total shock. I feel I am receiving it on behalf of the Missing People charity who have been working on this legislation,” Peter said in 2018.

“I have been working for the charity for nine years now and I’ve come across so many people who are suffering from not being able to deal with loves one’s affairs, mainly financial,” he added.