Claudia Lawrence: Missing persons 'guardianship' bill clears Parliament

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Peter Lawrence, picture with his daughter Claudia, supported the campaign to get the bill passed into law

A bill that aims to assist the families of missing persons has cleared its parliamentary stages.

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill is known as Claudia's Law, in memory of Claudia Lawrence who went missing on her way to work in York in 2009.

The bill received an unopposed third reading in the House of Lords and will now go forward for Royal Assent.

It establishes a new legal mechanism to deal with the property and financial affairs of a missing person.

The law, which applies in England and Wales, enables someone with an interest in the property of a missing person to be named as a guardian by a court 90 days after they have gone missing.

Peter Lawrence, Claudia's father, said: "At the moment there is nothing in law, as I discovered when Claudia went missing, to enable those left behind to deal with all the financial and practical affairs that everyone else takes for granted everyday."

He said the bill's passing was a "real milestone" which would help many families.

Susannah Drury, from the Missing People charity, said: "It will not only help to lessen the strain on thousands of families already dealing with the emotional distress of having a missing loved one, but it will also mean that a missing person who returns will not find their legal and financial affairs in disarray."

Miss Lawrence was 35 when she disappeared on her way to work as a chef at the University of York.

North Yorkshire Police believe she was murdered but despite a lengthy police investigation and a number of arrests no-one has been charged in connection with her disappearance.

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