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Claire Ripley was a former hairdresser in Sandbrook and wife of Lee Ashworth, the man Alec Hardy strongly suspected was responsible for the Sandbrook kidnappings and murders.

She originally provided her husband an alibi for the night of the kidnapping, saying he was home at night. However, she was in fact at a friend's house, which she later admitted to Alec Hardy. Hardy convinced Claire to tell the truth by telling her that it would help secure a conviction, keeping her safe.

When Lee was eventually set free, Hardy took care of her in an unofficial witness protection program, hiding her in a house in Broadchurch and moving to the town himself to look after her. However, when she began getting calls from an unknown number, Claire became worried for her safety, fearing Lee had come back for her. In fact, Lee had returned and had come to Broadchurch to find his wife. Hardy organised for a largely friendless Ellie Miller to look after Claire, but admitted to her that he actually wanted Lee to find Claire so he could put them together and record the conversation, potentially providing more evidence to help him solve the Sandbrook case. However, when this meeting did occur, the perimeter of the venue, Ellie's house, had not been secured as well as Hardy thought, with Beth Latimer confronting Ellie outside the front door providing the ideal opportunity for Lee to escape with his wife in tow. Fortunately, Hardy found Claire safe at her home, but Lee began effectively stalking her after this incident.

Claire changed her story again, claiming that she awoke during the night finding her husband cleaning the entire house and believed he'd drugged her. Neither Hardy or Ellie believed this version of events and began to suspect that Claire may not be as innocent as she claimed. It was also revealed that the pendant Pippa Gillespie owned actually belonged to Claire, as Ellie saw a photograph of her wearing it. Claire later burnt the photo to prevent it from being used against her. Hardy, in an attempt to put pressure on Claire, kicked her out of the house after learning she had met with Lee and slept with him. He also revealed to Lee that Claire had been pregnant but had an abortion after Lee was arrested, causing Lee to confront Claire violently, leading to a fight. It was eventually revealed that Claire was the one who stole the pendant from DS Tess Henchard's car. She returned it to Hardy before the conclusion of Joe Miller's trial as she had grown tired keeping secrets. Hardy then arrested Claire, and she finally confessed the truth when he and Ellie questioned her: she had been involved in the deaths of Pippa and Lisa.

The night the girls went missing, Claire had come home to tell Lee she was pregnant, only to discover Pippa crying on the stairs and Ricky Gillespie and Lee standing over Lisa's body. Claire was horrified to learn that Ricky had not only murdered his own niece and pinned the blame on Lee, but that Lee had also slept with Lisa.

Despite Lee's protests, Claire gave Pippa some whiskey to make her sleep — it came from a flask Ricky had given her. While comforting Pippa before this, she learned the girl had overheard Lee and Lisa having sex, and she believed Ricky's claims that Lee was the one who hurt her cousin. To protect Lee, Claire convinced him to kill Pippa whilst she slept and then dispose of the body. She told Ricky that Pippa had a reaction to whiskey and they'd been unable to save her. It is unknown what happened to Claire after her confession, but she would presumably have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and obstructing the course of justice. She was likely incarcerated whilst awaiting trial.

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