THE mother of missing Malton chef Claudia Lawrence says she is now ready to become involved in the campaign to find her almost six months after the disappearance of her daughter.

Frustrated by the lack of progress in the police investigation, Joan Lawrence said she was thinking of going on the speaking circuit to spread the word about Claudia’s mysterious disappearance.

The 66-year-old, who is deputy mayor of Malton, already has experience of speaking to women’s institutes, townswomen’s guilds and ladies luncheon clubs.

But while the topic of her talks has hitherto been “the history of afternoon tea” – that will now be replaced by the more serious subject of her missing 35-year-old daughter.

Joan said she also had plans to contact the family of Madeleine McCann “just to talk and share experiences”.

She said she had rejected interview requests from the national media because she was disgusted with the way Claudia’s private life had been portrayed, with lurid allegations about relationships with married men.

“It’s time to stand up for Claudia,” she said. “Anyone who really knows her knows that 90 per cent of it isn’t true.”

Claudia, who lived alone in York, and worked as a chef at the University of York, has not been seen since March 18 and police are treating her disappearance as suspected murder.

Mrs Lawrence, who lives in Norton and is separated from Claudia’s father, Peter Lawrence, from Slingsby, said that most days Claudia would phone her as she walked home from work – but there was no call on Thursday, March 19.

“I remember I was at Malton Ladies’ Luncheon Club that day and I pressed 1471 when I got home, expecting her to have rung. I assumed she’d remembered I was at the luncheon club.”

The next day, Joan travelled to Derbyshire to spend Mothering Sunday with her other daughter, Ali, and grandchildren, Luke, four, and Joshua, one.

“Ali got a call on the Friday night to say Claudia had gone missing and the police came round the following night.

“We were numb. It was so totally out of character. I know she wasn’t planning to go away because her toothbrush was still at her house. She was always meticulous about her teeth.

“You never imagine that something like this is going to happen to you – there’s no university degree to help you cope with it.

“My birthday brought it home. You hope against hope that a card will come. Mothering Sunday was the same – there was no word. It makes it even harder.”

If you have information to help the investigation, phone North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.