PETER Lawrence OBE, father of Claudia, who has been missing from York since 2009, has died aged 74 following a short illness.

Peter died on Thursday February 11 at St Leonard’s Hospice in York.

A friend of Peter has paid tribute to the former solicitor following his death.

Martin Dales, a friend of and spokesman for Peter, has praised his “tireless,” work in the search for his daughter, who went missing from York in March 2009 and has never been found.

Mr Dales said: “Peter will be sorely missed by his family and friends who request privacy at this sad time and there will be no further comments from the family.

“It is sad that nearly 12 years after Claudia’s disappearance from York Peter never found out what has happened to her.

“He was a very private person thrust into the full glare of the media and despite a tireless campaign to find her, he also selflessly devoted himself to helping others with missing relatives through the charity Missing People.

“He also utilised his legal background to persuade Parliament to bring in firstly changes to the Presumption of Death Act and then the creation of the new Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act, known as Claudia’s Law, to assist people in dealing with the financial & business affairs of a missing person and for this work he received the OBE in 2018.

“Despite Peter’s death, the message remains the same - where is Claudia? Anyone with information should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.”

Claudia Lawrence was last seen on CCTV on her way home from work at the University of York on March 18 2009. The following day, she failed to arrive for her 6am shift.

Police launched a huge search and missing person appeal, but, despite their efforts and a £1 million murder inquiry, her disappearance remains a mystery to this day. A £10,000 reward was offered by Crimestoppers, but this was withdrawn in 2011.

Other theories have included her flitting off to Cyprus or that she disappeared after she arrived home that night, but her dad Peter dismissed these stating “She just wasn’t like that.”

There have been numerous hoax calls, during which people have claimed to know what happened to the 35-year-old. These include a message from a teenager in Oxfordshire, claiming to be Claudia, in 2009.

Various sightings of Claudia have been reported to North Yorkshire Police, including one in Amsterdam in July 2012.

National newspapers covering the story have claimed Claudia was planning a new life in Cyprus prior to her disappearance.

Numerous suspects have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of Claudia including a 59-year-old man and a 46-year-old man in 2014, but both were released.

In September 2015, North Yorkshire Police handed over a case of four men they had arrested on suspicion of Claudia’s murder, but the men were not charged, which “absolutely devastated,” Claudia’s parents Joan and Peter.

Further arrests were made in 2015 of men in their fifties, but they were also released.

In 2015, Daniel Oxley, who was jailed for murder, claimed to have killed Claudia, but his barrister said this was an act of “attention seeking.”

In 2016, the investigation into her death led to police looking into whether killer Christopher Halliwell, who is currently serving life in jail for killing Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, was involved in her disappearance as he had a relative who lived close to Heworth in 2009, but there were no known links.

In 2018, North Yorkshire Police announced that the final active lead in the case, which was a DNA profile found on a cigarette, came to nothing.

March 18 2019 saw the 10-year anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance.

In July 2019, ‘Claudia’s law’, which Peter was involved in, came into effect, which allows families to take over the affairs of missing loved ones.

In December 2019, a Channel 5 documentary examined whether the Heworth woman might have been sex trafficked to Amsterdam.