The search for Claudia Lawrence

Six months after her disappearance, her mother Joan speaks for the first time about the police hunt

Regulars at the Nag's Head in York will be in sombre mood on Friday. It will be six months to the day since the mysterious disappearance of their friend Claudia Lawrence sparked one of the biggest investigations in the history of North Yorkshire Police.

In a desperate effort to find his missing daughter, Claudia's father Peter Lawrence will hold a press conference in the place that has been a focus for police investigations into her relationships. The nondescript pub is just a few doors down from the cottage where Claudia used to live on the outskirts of York, and was a regular haunt for the 35-year-old chef.

Claudia's mother, Joan, will not be there next Friday. She will continue to keep a low profile – struggling to deal with the fact that her daughter has simply vanished without trace.

Speaking at her home in the Yorkshire village of Norton, the 65-year-old broke her silence to give her first national newspaper interview since her daughter's disappearance. "I feel terrible. It seems like a lifetime. I miss her every day. We talked on the phone almost every day and met up every week. It's totally out of character. She'd never do this. She'd never put us through this. It's hell. I can't describe the situation any other way," said Mrs Lawrence.

She has not heard from Claudia since Wednesday 18 March, when the two made plans over the phone to meet up on Mothering Sunday.

Police have spent much of the past few months focusing on her daughter's love life. Yet this has so far failed to bring them any closer to finding her. Her mother is angry with the tabloid press. "Everything gets twisted and all they've done is blacken her name and I'm not happy about that at all. Ninety per cent that has been said about her isn't true."

She claims her daughter could have been abducted and taken abroad. "There was this report about some white slave trade going in York. Someone tried to abduct a student from the university, outside the Minster, and she was rescued. It just makes you think. And there's another 35-year-old girl who went missing about six months before Claudia, and it makes me wonder what's going on."

Clearly frustrated at the lack of progress, she accused the police of taking a one-size-fits-all approach. "Personally I think they've made an awful lot of mistakes. I think the first 72 hours are absolutely crucial," she said. "I've been told [by a woman who used to work for the police] that the way the case is going and way it has been conducted, she's ashamed to have ever been in the police force.

"I just wish the police had been just a bit more tactful and a bit more sensitive. There have been days when they've come here and I've felt I could have been anyone sitting here talking to them, not her mum."

Claudia's disappearance has prompted more than 1,200 calls to police hotlines, searches of hundreds of properties, Crimewatch appeals, a £10,000 reward and pleas for help by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. But she remains missing and, by the police at least, presumed dead. And the number of police working on the case has been reduced by more than half.

Not knowing what has happened to her daughter is hard for her mother to cope with. "People say I'm doing brilliantly but I'm not inside. It's just going on too long. I don't know what is going on. Somebody does know something. Something's got to happen. There's got to be a turnaround because I don't think anyone's going to come forward."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas