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Friday, 24 March 2017

'Claudia's Law' a step closer as missing persons' guardianship Bill is unopposed

Written by Richard Wheeler

Proposals in memory of Claudia Lawrence designed to help families of missing persons have moved closer to becoming law.

Ms Lawrence's father Peter gave a thumbs-up gesture in the public gallery as so-called "Claudia's Law" swiftly completed its final stages in the House of Commons.

Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake's draft legislation would ensure someone with a sufficient interest in the property and affairs of a missing person could be appointed as a guardian by a court 90 days after the disappearance.

Mr Lawrence has been involved in the campaign for change after he was told he could not manage the financial affairs of his daughter, who disappeared on her way to work at the University of York in March 2009.

The Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill will now progress to the Lords where it will undergo further scrutiny before it can become law.

Mr Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton), speaking before the Bill received an unopposed third reading, said he got involved in the campaign due to the Lawrence family.

He said: "Their daughter Claudia went missing eight years ago this very week in tragic circumstances, and still no answer can be found to the reason for that disappearance.

"But as well as the trauma, anxiety and stress around that kind of situation, what the Lawrences discovered in those early weeks is their inability to deal with the financial affairs of Claudia.

"It's a simple piece of legislation. It will fill a gap in the law that exists.

"I think as a tribute to Mr and Mrs Lawrence and how hard they have worked on this, their commitment and championing the cause of guardianship, as a testimony to their endeavour, their eternal hope, their endless fight for answers and for justice, and the commitment to help others in similar tragic circumstances, I very much hope this legislation, if effected, will always be known as Claudia's Law."

Under the terms of the Bill, a guardian could be appointed for a period lasting up to four years which could be renewed by a further court application.

The proposal would compel the guardian to act in the best interests of the missing person.

Labour offered its support to the Bill.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah echoed Mr Hollinrake's remarks when he said: "The letter of the law will call this the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill but I know, as my honourable friend said, this Bill will always be known as Claudia's Law."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.