Claudia Lawrence's mother says BBC hounding daughter for licence fee

Claudia Lawrence’s heartbroken mother claims the BBC is hounding the missing university chef for her TV licence fee and has threatened £1,000 fines and court action – 14 years after she vanished

  • Ms Lawrence has not been seen since she failed to arrive for work in March 2009
  • But her mother Joan says letters from BBC have continued to be sent to her door 

Claudia Lawrence’s mother has claimed the BBC is chasing her missing daughter for her licence fee and has threatened court action – 14 years after she disappeared.

The chef, then 35, has not been seen since she failed to arrive for work at the University of York in March 2009, but letters have still been arriving at her property from the corporation.

Detectives believe Ms Lawrence – who lived in the Heworth area of York – was murdered, although no body has ever been found. 

But her mother Joan, 79, has revealed how demands at her daughter’s terraced cottage have ‘threatened court action and a £1,000 fine’, The Sun reports.

She says the demands have caused ‘untold heartache’ and has called on police to stop the BBC sending letters to the property.

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

Her mother Joan, 79, has revealed how demands at her daughter’s terraced cottage have ‘threatened court action and a £1,000 fine’

Joan has preserved her daughter’s house alone following the death of her ex-husband Peter aged 74 in 2021.

He had campaigned to get answers to the puzzle of her disappearance and spent years arguing for what became the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill – also known as Claudia’s Law – which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters. 

North Yorkshire Police has conducted two investigations and questioned nine people in relation to her disappearance and suspected murder, but no charges have ever been brought.

After finding a letter at her daughter’s house threatening court action and a fine in January, Joan contacted the TV Licensing Authority to plead them to halt sending the demands.

But her desperate request was ignored and another letter subsequently arrived at the address.

Joan said receiving the letters is causing her ‘untold heartache’, with demands for payment still arriving despite efforts to notify all relevant parties.

It comes despite her daughter’s disappearance, and a public appeal from Joan, having featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme.

She added: ‘You’d think they’d know by now, after all the publicity, wouldn’t you?

‘They must have sent two or three letters a year in all the time this has been happening. One was nasty and horrible. It threatened that not paying could affect her credit score.

‘I’m not someone who has ever had any debts, I pay for things straight away, so it was an awful thing to read. It really must stop.’

Police officers searching the land at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York in connection with the disappearance in August 2021

Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter (pictured together), died last year without knowing what happened to his daughter

She drives half an hour to visit Claudia’s cottage from her own home in Malton, North Yorkshire, every fortnight.

Tory MPs have slammed the BBC for continuing to send letters to missing Claudia.

Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay, told The Sun: ‘ My heart goes out to Claudia’s mum Joan. It just gets worse for the BBC, it is simply impossible to justify these demands. 

‘If anything, it only advances the cause of decriminalising paying for a TV service.’

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris added that the situation was ‘a disgrace’ and there are ‘simply no excuses’.

Police activity around Claudia’a case increased in 2021 when the North Yorkshire force spent two weeks searching a lake and nearby woods just outside York but hopes of a breakthrough were later dashed.

Teams of police experts, search dogs, divers and forensic archaeologists spent two weeks scouring a lake and nearby woods for potential spots where her body could have been left. 

In a public appeal last year, Joan said she is continuing to try and solve the mystery for herself and is reviewing what happened ‘with a fine-toothed comb’ for ‘simple things that have been missed’. 

A spokesman for the TV Licensing Authority said: ‘We are sorry for any distress caused to Ms Lawrence. As she indicated the property may be occupied at some stage, TV Licensing stopped any letters to the address for three months.

‘However, the property remains empty and we have placed an indefinite hold on the address today and this will not be removed until we are informed the property is occupied.’

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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