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Ministry of Justice hit back at the father of missing Claudia


3:41pm 18th January 2011

After the father of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence criticised the Justice Minister for not support the rights of families who's loved ones have disappeared, the government's now hit back.

Peter Lawrence reckons the families of those who've disappeared should have more rights to deal with their personal affairs.

At the moment things like bank accounts and mortgages can't be closed without the missing person's signature.

But Peter says that's not good enough.

The charity Missing People approached the Ministry of Justice to change the policy, but didn't get the responce it hoped for.

Peter Lawrence said:

"This is an unsatisfactory response and all the MPs I met in Parliament  agreed. I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister so that he can hear first-hand the sort of problems many (not small number as Minister states) people are facing when someone goes missing. Both Northern Ireland and Scotland have legislation already so why not England & Wales: there's enough to worry about emotionally without the additional burden of no procedures existing."

In responce today a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:

"Ministers have recently carefully considered proposals made by the charity, Missing People, to create a Presumption of Death Act in England and Wales. The Act would create a single general procedure by which a certificate of presumed death could be obtained. This would replace the several specific procedures that exist at present. Ministers are grateful to Missing People for its work but, in view of the cost of setting up the new procedure, the relatively small number of cases in which it would be used and the existence of the present procedures, have decided that developing this proposal is not a priority. In the light of the need to concentrate resources on the delivery of key priorities, Ministers have therefore decided not to take this work forward.  

"However, work on other issues relating to people who disappear is still ongoing. More can and should be done to improve the multi-agency response to missing persons.  The Home Office is working to address the recommendations of the Missing Persons Taskforce made in March 2010. Some of these have begun and others need further consideration."

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