Cyprus Mail

Missing or murdered: documentary about missing chef films in Paphos

Missing chef Claudia Lawrence

A documentary crew has just finished in Paphos, filming an upcoming programme about the disappearance of British chef Claudia Lawrence, who was last seen in 2009 and had visited Cyprus on a number of occasions.

The episode is part of a three-part documentary series on British TV’s Channel 5 examining unsolved disappearances titled Missing or Murdered?

Claudia Lawrence’s story will feature in episode three, due to be broadcast later this year or early 2020.

March 18, 2019 marked 10 years since the 35-year-old disappeared without a trace in York, England. She was reported missing to North Yorkshire Police (NYP) after she failed to arrive at work, police later treating her disappearance as suspected murder.

Following her disappearance, police investigations focused on the route between her home on Heworth Road and the University of York, where she worked as a chef. The missing woman’s passport was found at her flat.

In September 2009 police extended the search to Cyprus and NYP officers said that Lawrence knew several people who lived here. British police officers visited Cyprus in September 2009 to carry out interviews, focusing particularly on the area of Coral Bay and Peyia.

No Cypriots were sought in connection with the case and nothing was reported as coming from the visit.

Of the three episodes, which each feature different people, the missing chef’s episode has proven to be the most challenging so far, ‘shooting series producer and director’ Robin Anderson told the Cyprus Mail.

“I think it’s been tough, particularly to find interviewees. People want to move on with their lives, and in the UK, on a crime watch programme, the policeman in charge of the enquiry at the time created a tabloid frenzy by a comment that he made about Claudia.”

This has led to a reluctance to speak to the media and the comment of her ‘mysterious and complex’ relationships spoken about by the police did not correlate with the impression held by friends of Claudia either in Cyprus or the UK, and understandably upset the Lawrence family.

The NYP has refused to speak to the documentary makers

“The NYP police won’t talk to us and aren’t really media-friendly as they received a trouncing over comments that were previously made,” Anderson said.

He added that the police won’t comment on the case as it is in the “reactive phase” but will only be “re-energised” if new evidence is apparent.

The filmmakers haven’t had much luck with the Cyprus police either. An interview arranged with the head of Peyia police was subsequently cancelled.

“Initially the Cyprus police didn’t get back to us and when they did, they shut us down and wouldn’t talk to us at all. The reason given by police in Nicosia is that the investigation is still live, although it’s not really live in that way, it’s dormant until any further information comes to light.”

He added that the missing woman’s parents have taken part in the documentary as they feel that they owe it to their daughter and that obviously there is a hope that something will come from it.

The filmmakers have been speaking to locals in Coral Bay who may remember the story or may have been friends with Claudia.

Researcher James Pepper said: “People remember the story but as Coral Bay is popular with tourists there are so many people passing through, and Claudia is just another face.”

It was reported that the last text message received by Lawrence before her disappearance was from a male friend that lived in Cyprus.

At the time, a friend of hers told the BBC that Claudia was very fond of the island. “Claudia absolutely loved it there, really loved it. She said she felt really comfortable,” she said.

In 2009, the Cyprus Mail visited Coral Bay to speak to locals, bar owners and bar staff and taxi drivers to see if they recognised the missing woman from a photograph. Many said that they recognised her as a holidaymaker and one said he had seen her going into a bar with a man, but that it was at least six months previously.

According to the NYP website North Yorkshire Police’s commitment and determination to solve the case and bring closure for Claudia’s loved-ones is undiminished by the passage of time.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, head of the Cleveland and North Yorkshire Major Investigation Team, led a comprehensive review of the original investigation between the autumn of 2013 to the beginning of 2017.

Despite four men being arrested for murder in connection with the 35-year-old’s disappearance, the Crown Prosecution Service abandoned proceedings against them in 2016, due to a lack of evidence.

Police believe the only way of cracking the case now is for someone to come forward with some new evidence. On the 10th anniversary of the disappearance in March Malyn said: “It remains the case that we strongly suspect key and vital information is being withheld that could provide the breakthrough that we all want to see.

“As with some recent cold case successes, the breakthrough has come from the public and we still have confidence that this will be the case.”

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact the Cyprus Mail

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