POLICE have hit back after the mother of York chef Claudia Lawrence said detectives missed “chance after chance” to solve the mystery of her missing daughter.

Nearly four years on after the 35-year-old vanished, Joan Lawrence told a national newspaper that officers may have missed the opportunity to solve her daughter’s disappearance by becoming fixated by the belief that her daughter had a “complex” love life.

“Police have got this wrong from day one,” she said. “It’s as if they are looking for a Claudia I didn’t know; a girl I would not recognise as my own daughter.”

As The Press previously reported, the former head of the investigation into Claudia’s disappearance - Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway of North Yorkshire Police - revealed in the months following her disappearance that Claudia was involved in relationships of “complexity and mystery", and kept those secret from friends and family. Her family have always refuted these claims and rumours that she was involved with married men.

In an interview, Mrs Lawrence has now said she hopes that vital clues that were overlooked but which could shed light on Claudia’s life if “only police would listen” will be examined, saying police “missed opportunities at the start and since then they have ignored me when I said I could help establish what Claudia was up to”.

“They have never asked me about Claudia, they have never asked if I knew what was going on in her life,” she added. “They have listened to a few people and decided they know enough but what harm would it do to check names, dates and places with me? What if they’ve missed something?”

She also complained that relatives heard nothing from detectives for more than a year.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police issued a statement following her interview, saying that Mrs Lawrence has been “frequently and consistently consulted and updated throughout the investigation”.

He added: “Every question she has raised has been fully addressed and she has received comprehensive support from dedicated Family Liaison Officers.

"Mrs Lawrence has provided two comprehensive statements that have helped to inform the lines of enquiry being pursued by the investigation team. These have been subjected to rigorous external review and fully endorsed.

“Should Mrs Lawrence have further information that she wishes to pass on to the investigation team, we urge her to do so.”

Anyone with information about Claudia's disappearance should telephone North Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.