Claudia Lawrence's case 'could be resolved', says ex police inspector

Claudia Lawrence’s case ‘could STILL be resolved’ 14 years after she vanished, claims former police inspector in Channel 5 documentary about Britain’s missing people

  • Ms Lawrence has not been seen since she failed to arrive for work in March 2009
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Claudia Lawrence’s case ‘could still be resolved’ 14 years after she vanished, a former police inspector has claimed in a Channel 5 documentary about Britain’s missing people.

The chef, then 35, has not been seen since she failed to arrive for work at the University of York in March 2009.

In tonight’s Vanished: The Search For Britain’s Missing on Channel 5, former police inspector Martin Holleran, now a visiting lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, insists he believes the case will be resolved.

He says: ‘Because there was no damage in the house, because the backpack was taken with her normal working clothes, I think the reality is, it’s happened on the Thursday morning as opposed to the Wednesday night.

‘My hypothesis, having looked at what’s available, would suggest that somebody has picked her up on the Thursday morning. 

He continued: ‘What’s very interesting as well, is that a witness later came forward to say that they’d seen a male and female arguing by a car, at ten past six in the morning on Thursday 19th. And the passenger door was open. 

‘I think there could be a great deal of significance in that because it was in the right location, Claudia should’ve been in work at six o’clock. It was ten past six. that could be a very significant piece of evidence.

‘The police have recognised that unless information comes in to them. There are very little avenues of investigation left open to them.

‘I think there is somebody out there who does know something. I think there is somebody out there who’s still got information, and I think this case could still be resolved.’

Ms Lawrence lived by herself in the Heworth area of York, but failed to arrive for work on March 18, 2009.

She was reported missing by her father Peter Lawrence two days later, after her friends said they had not heard from her.

In the 14 years since her disappearance, nine people have been questioned by officers, but no charges have ever been brought. The case – which is being treated as a suspected murder – has never been closed by North Yorkshire Police.

Police believe Ms Lawrence was murdered, although no body has ever been found.

Claudia Lawrence’s case ‘could still be resolved’ 14 years after the university chef (pictured) vanished, a former police inspector has claimed in a Channel 5 documentary about Britain’s missing people

In tonight’s Vanished: The Search For Britain’s Missing on Channel 5, former police inspector Martin Holleran (pictured), now a visiting lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, insists he believes the case will be resolved

Her father Mr Lawrence – who campaigned tirelessly for Claudia’s Law, which allows relatives to control their missing loved ones’ financial matters – died in February 2021 aged 74, without finding out what happened to her.

Ms Lawrence’s mother Joan has spoken numerous times about her agony at not knowing what has happened to her daughter.

In 2020 she said: ‘Still I don’t know where my daughter is. I don’t even know if there is a “grave” somewhere. It plays on my mind that her body is out there.’

In April 2023, detectives investigating Ms Lawrence’s disappearance said they think it ‘unlikely’ double murderer Christopher Halliwell was involved – after a seven year probe placed him in Swindon.

North Yorkshire Police revealed it had been working with the Wiltshire force since September 2016 when it was suggested he may have been connected.

Suspicions were aired then by former detective superintendent Steve Fulcher, who had just brought him to justice for murdering Sian O’Callaghan and Becky Godden. 

But the Yorkshire force said it had examined digital devices and interviewed witnesses that place Halliday in Swindon at the time Ms Lawrence vanished.

It will come as a major blow to the missing woman’s mother Joan, who want officers to question him about her daughter.  

Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter (pictured together), died in February 2021 aged 74, without finding out what happened to his daughter

Claudia’s mother Joan Lawrence has previously urged detectives to question Christopher Halliwell about the crime

Det Supt Wayne Fox, head of the Major Investigation Team at North Yorkshire Police, said: ‘We have pursued lines of enquiry which are focussed on any link he may have to the North Yorkshire area and, in particular, the movements of Christopher Halliwell during the material times in which we believe Claudia came to harm.

‘The results of those enquiries, which included examinations of digital devices and the interviewing of several witnesses, indicated that Halliwell continued to operate as a taxi driver in the Swindon area within the relevant time parameters.

READ MORE: BBC apologises to mother of missing university cook Claudia Lawrence after licence fee payment letters threatening fines of up to £1,000 were sent to her daughter’s property

‘Both investigation teams reached a position in which we concluded it to be unlikely that Halliwell left the Wiltshire area, or was present in North Yorkshire, at the time of Claudia’s disappearance.’

Halliwell was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016 after he admitted murdering Ms Godden-Edwards, 20, in 2003, while being questioned about the murder of another young woman, Ms O’Callaghan, 22, in 2011.

But some have always suspected the former taxi driver from Swindon of murdering more women, and in 2019 he was linked with four other unsolved cases. 

Ms Lawrence’s mother Joan said a month before the news that she believes police should be looking closely at Halliwell in her daughter’s case. 

She claimed more witnesses have come forward about Halliwell’s connections to York, where her daughter was last seen, including a construction boss who travelled to the region with a team which included Halliwell. 

Detectives believe Ms Lawrence’s personal life is a key aspect of the case and have dismissed any links to Halliwell. 

But Ms Lawrence fears they are ‘blinkered’ and has said there are three witnesses who can link Halliwell to North Yorkshire. 

‘More and more people keep coming forward,’ she told The Mirror. ‘This can’t just be a coincidence.’  It just feels like there is something we are all missing. Surely police should be looking at this again?’

Ms Lawrence said she was contacted by a woman who saw a picture of Halliwell in the paper. The witness believes she saw him in a red Rover near the Nestle factory at 5am in March 2009. 

According to Ms Lawrence, the witness spoke to the police about it but she felt they ‘weren’t taking her seriously.’  

Detectives said digital devices and witnesses place Halliwell (pictured) in a different area to Ms Lawrence

‘The way he looked at her frightened her so much she ran home,’ Ms Lawrence said.  ‘Years later when Halliwell was in the papers after he was in court for murder, she recognised his face and she made contact with me.’

She has also urged police to allow her to see Halliwell’s ‘treasure trove’ of items linked to his crimes, found in a lake in Ramsbury in 2014. It included the boots of one of his victim’s, a shotgun, and women’s clothing. 

She has also begged police to see his drawings of beauty spots, wondering if she might spot something linked to her daughter. 

‘Please show me Halliwell’s treasure trove,’ she said. ‘I might recognise something of Claudia’s that could be vital’. 

Vanished: The Search For Britain’s Missing – Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 5

The disappearance of Claudia Lawrence


March 18 – Miss Lawrence speaks with her parents over the phone and, at 8.23pm, sends her friend a text. She has not been seen or heard from since.

March 20 – Miss Lawrence’s father, Peter, contacts North Yorkshire Police after his daughter fails to keep an arrangement to meet a friend at the Nags Head pub. She also fails to attend work.

March 23 – Mr Lawrence describes his daughter’s disappearance as a ‘living nightmare’ during a news conference in York.

April 24 – Detectives say that Miss Lawrence’s disappearance is being treated as a suspected murder investigation. A £10,000 reward is offered for information that could lead to the conviction of those responsible.


May 6 – Mr Lawrence calls for an urgent independent inquiry into the police investigation of his daughter’s disappearance and suspected murder.

July 29 – Police confirm they are reducing the number of officers dedicated to the inquiry into Miss Lawrence’s disappearance.


October 29 – A new forensic search of Miss Lawrence’s home is announced as police launch a fresh review of the case.


March 19 – Five years on from Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, officers discover at her home the fingerprints of people who have still not come forward to the investigation.

May 13 – A 59-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of murder. He is released on police bail and eventually released without charge on November 17, 2014.


March 23 – A man in his 50s is arrested on suspicion of murdering Miss Lawrence and is released on police bail the following day.

April 22 – Three more men, all in their 50s and from the York area, are arrested on suspicion of murder and are released on bail.

September 17 – A file of evidence on four men arrested on suspicion of murder is sent by North Yorkshire Police to the Crown Prosecution service (CPS) so it can consider whether to bring charges.


March 8 – Police say the CPS has decided the four men will not face charges.


January 17 – Mr Lawrence says he is ‘hugely depressed and disappointed’ as the investigation into his daughter’s disappearance is scaled down.


March – Nearly a decade on from her disappearance, Miss Lawrence has still not been found. Her father says in an interview that ‘it’s very difficult’ to conceive of her still being alive.

July – The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia’s Law, came into force. This followed years of campaigning by Mr Lawrence and allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.


February 15 – The death of Peter Lawrence in announced.

March 18 – Speaking after taking over the police investigation, Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox said it is not too late for people to come forward and stop the ‘unrelenting anguish’ caused to the chef’s loved ones.

August 24 – A new search operation is announced at the gravel pits at Sand Hutton, about eight miles from York. The search, which takes in a lake and fields, last two weeks but police later say they have found ‘nothing of obvious significance’.

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