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."

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin