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Claudia's father backs new "presumed death" bill
3:38pm Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
THE Government has agreed to back legislation to help the families of missing people such as York chef Claudia Lawrence and ease their heartache.
Her father, solicitor Peter Lawrence, was among those in the House of Commons today for the second reading of the Presumption of Death Bill.
He has been a high-profile supporter of the bill, designed to simplify the law around the affairs of those who are missing and presumed dead.
The presumption of death certificate will be equivalent to a death certificate in its legal power and will help to simplify the processes and problems faced by those left behind.
Having the certificate will help families deal with different aspects of the affairs of the missing person, such as existing direct debits or access to bank accounts.
Mr Lawrence’s daughter was 35 when she vanished in March 2009 on her way to work at York University. Originally from Darlington and brought up in Malton, her disappearance has tormented her family and friends ever since and police are treating the case as suspected murder.
However although Mr Lawrence supports the bill he doesn’t believe it goes far enough – and wants it to include a provision for guardianship. He now hopes that will be included during the committee stage.
His friend and spokesman Martin Dales said: “Peter, along with many MPs and Peers, believes guardianship arrangements would assist 1,000s of families with missing people each year and is a vital ingredient in this packet of legislation.”
The private members bill was introduced by Salisbury MP John Glenn and the Government’s support was announced by Justice Minister Helen Grant.
“The existing system is convoluted and an additional nightmare for families to overcome,” she said.
“That is why we are changing the law and making the process much more straightforward.”