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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
A daily miscellany of general election facts, figures, trivia and traditions
voicesThere's still time for someone to do something to make us care
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, goes back to his family's Sicilian roots in the first 'Godfather' film
Kim Kardashian speaks on the Today show about her step-father's transition
Wenger and Mourinho square-up to each other earlier this season
sportAll the action from today's Premier League, including Everton vs Man Utd and Chelsea vs Arsenal
Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions