But after anonymous tip-offs to North Yorkshire Police, officers launched a new search this week.
It has been agony for her 78-year-old mother, Joan. She said: “It’s been truly awful. I’d rather have no news than bad news.
“But I do dread there being bad news. I pray for answers every day. I am really thrown by what is happening now.”
Police divers have been pumping out water from a lake just 20 minutes from where Claudia lived in York.
Joan added: “They’ve made me nervous. What are they searching for? The bag, for the phone? For her?
“I’m worried about my daughter, but it’s always been my instinct that she is still alive.
“I can’t give up hope. That’s what keeps me going.”
For the bewildered mum the stress has been immense – leaving her suffering from alopecia and having to wear wigs.
About her latest ordeal, she said: “They rang my daughter, Ali, at 8am and told them there was nothing to be concerned about. But something must have triggered this off.They must have been told something.”
She said she hopes 2021 brings her answers but she has little faith in the police investigation, adding: “Their theories just don’t work.”
Claudia grew up with her sister, mum – a former town mayor – and her solicitor dad, Peter Lawrence, who died earlier this year aged 74.
Her parents had met through the church in their home town of Darlington but moved to North Yorkshire. But after 30 years of marriage the couple split in 1997 when Claudia was 23.
The couple became so estranged they did not speak to each other throughout the whole police inquiry.
Since Claudia’s disappearance, nine people have been questioned as part of the investigation but no charges ever brought.
Police have said they believe people are keeping secrets and the answer could be in Claudia’s complicated love life.
Several times they have searched Claudia’s local, the Nag’s Head, and arrested four men who regularly drank there.