Dad: 'We still buy gifts for Claudia'

The anguished dad of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has revealed how her family still buy her Christmas presents almost two years after her disappearance.

Peter Lawrence, 64, told how her mum Joan, sister Ali Sims and her two nephews purchase gifts to keep her memory alive after she vanished in March 2008.

He added that Claudia loved family Christmases and was an even bigger fan of the New Year celebrations, meaning this was an unbearably poignant time.

He issued yet another appeal for fresh information despite admitting they were "no closer" to finding the 36-year-old. He told a press conference in York that he will be heading to the Peak District to spend the festive period with Claudia's 39-year-old sister Ali, her husband Danny and their children.

He said: "We shared 35 years of Christmases with Claudia until last year, so this is a poignant time of year to put it mildly and an extremely difficult time for the family.

"I will be spending this Christmas with Ali and her two boys as I did last year. We like to make it as normal as possible for them and everyone buys presents for Claudia. But when they have gone to bed and Ali and I are left downstairs together it is a very sad time.

"When we sit down to Christmas dinner we do not leave an empty chair for Claudia as I think I would find that strange. But there will certainly be a chair for her and two years worth of presents if she were to return, which of course would be the best Christmas present of them all."

He added "The person who was involved in abducting Claudia must be harbouring a great burden. Please release that burden which is also extremely great on our family.

"We're not getting any closer and we won't until that someone comes forward with information. To this person I would say, you're with your family at Christmas but we're not with Claudia. Now is the time to share this information either with the police or anonymously with Crimestoppers.

"I'm determined to keep this campaign going. I don't know how, but we will find out one day what has happened to her."

Claudia has also been remembered in one of the Archbishop of York's daily Advent Calendar messages.

A 10,000 reward remains in place from Crimestoppers for anyone who can give information regarding Claudia's mysterious disappearance.

The University of York chef vanished on March 18 2009.

Sarah Champion MP

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