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Nicola Bulley – latest: TikTok threatens to remove conspiracy accounts after body found

TikTok has threatened to remove users who spread misinformation about Nicola Bulley after the social media app was criticised for allowing conspiracy theories to spread on its platform during the search for the mother-of-two.

The social media app said it would “take action” against people who violated its community guidelines when posting content about the case of Ms Bulley.

Police confirmed on Monday that a body found in the river around 1 mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen was that of the missing 45-year-old.

Ms Bulley had been missing for more than three weeks and amateur detectives, online sleuths and social media influencers descended on St Michael’s on Wyre to look for her.

In a statement read out by Lancashire Police at a press conference on Monday evening, the 45-year-old’s family urged that the press and members of the public - TikTok sleuths included - “must be held accountable” for false accusations, misquotations and “vilifying” Nicola Bulley’s friends and relatives.

“It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now,” the family said. “Do the press and other media channels and so-called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives.”

Key Points

  • Ofcom 'extremely concerned' by Nicola Bulley family comments about Sky and ITV

  • Man who says he found Nicola Bulley’s body claims ‘psychic gift’ led to discovery

  • Body found in River Wyre belongs to Nicola Bulley, police confirm

  • As family say media ‘must be held accountable’ for ‘appalling’ coverage

  • Diving expert defends search after body found in Nicola Bulley case

  • Nicola Bulley’s partner in ‘agony’ after divers find body in river

Man who says he found Nicola Bulley’s body claims ‘psychic gift’ led to discovery

08:40 , Emily Atkinson

A man who says he discovered Nicola Bulley claims he used his “gifts” as a “medium” to lead him to the missing mother’s body.

Police confirmed on Monday that a body found in the river near in St Michael’ on Wyre, Lancashire was that of Ms Bulley.

Jason Rothwell, who describes himself as a spiritual medium, wrote on social media that “yes, it is myself in the images in the media currently circulating”.

Matt Mathers reports:

Man who says he found Nicola Bulley’s body claims ‘psychic gift’ led to discovery

TikTok takes action against Nicola Bulley conspiracy theorists who ‘disrupted’ search

21:26 , Eleanor Noyce

TikTok has threatened to remove users who spread misinformation about Nicola Bulley after the social media app was criticised for allowing conspiracy theories to spread on its platform during the search for the mother-of-two.

The social media app said it would “take action” against people who violated its community guidelines when posting content about the case of Ms Bulley.

Police confirmed on Monday that a body found in the river around 1 mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen was that of the missing 45-year-old.

Ms Bulley had been missing for more than three weeks and amateur detectives, online sleuths and social media influencers descended on St Michael’s on Wyre to look for her.

TikTok takes action against Nicola Bulley conspiracy theorists who ‘disrupted’ search

Suspected area of River Wyre where body was found during search for Nicola Bulley

19:00 , Emily Atkinson

Braverman awaiting result of police review of handling of Nicola Bulley case

18:30 , Emily Atkinson

The Home Secretary has said she will see what Lancashire Police’s own inquiries “come back with” when asked if there would be an external review into the force’s handling of the Nicola Bulley case.

Suella Braverman said she was not “wholly satisfied” with responses given by the chief constable when she demanded an explanation as to why some of Ms Bulley’s personal details were put into the public domain.

But Ms Braverman said the force’s own investigation into how the case was handled must “carry out its own process”.

Braverman awaiting result of police review of handling of Nicola Bulley case

Rugby league star’s disappearance ‘exactly the same’ as missing Nicola Bulley, brother says

18:00 , Emily Atkinson

than a year ago says his case is “exactly the same” as that of missing dog walker Nicola Bulley.

Bryn Hargreaves, 36, vanished in Virginia on 3 January last year but while detectives believe his body may be in a lake, he has yet to be found.

Police were first called to his house after a neighbour reported water had been leaking into their apartment.

Matt Mathers reports:

Rugby star’s disappearance ‘exactly the same’ as missing Nicola Bulley, says brother

Nicola Bulley’s family speak of devastation as her body formally identified

17:30 , Emily Atkinson

The family of Nicola Bulley have said they will “never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments” as police confirmed her body was pulled from a river.

The mother-of-two was discovered on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire, more than three weeks on from when she disappeared.

She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27.

Nicola Bulley’s family speak of devastation as her body formally identified

The women still missing as police continue search for Nicola Bulley

16:55 , Emily Atkinson

Police have found a body in the search for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley.

The 45-year-old disappeared while on her regular dog walk in the quiet village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire on the morning of 27 January.

Dropping her children off at school, she took her spaniel Willow for a stroll by the river and was sighted at around 9am by a witness but despite an extensive search, her disappearance remains a mystery.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain has more:

The women still missing as police continue search for Nicola Bulley

ITV to ‘co-operate fully’ with Ofcom request

16:17 , Emily Atkinson

ITV has said it will co-operate fully with media watchdog Ofcom’s request to explain its actions over the Nicola Bulley case, following comments by her family.

ITV said: “As a responsible broadcaster, we will co-operate fully and respond in detail to Ofcom’s request for information.

“We express sincere condolences to the family at this difficult time and we will not be commenting further.”

Watch: Diver Peter Faulding says he is the ‘fall guy’

15:43 , Emily Atkinson

Selfie-takers ‘wanted validation from being at Nicola Bulley disappearance site’

15:17 , Emily Atkinson

People taking selfies at the site where Nicola Bulley went missing could have been seeking a sense of “personal validation” or might have been hoping to make money from online clicks, an expert has suggested.

In the weeks after the mother-of-two’s disappearance, a family friend said members of the public had arrived from far and wide, some bringing children and taking selfies, making the area feel like a “tourist spot”.

Heather Gibbons, speaking earlier this month, said that speculation which was rife on social media about the disappearance was “hard” for the family to take.

Selfie-takers ‘wanted validation from being at Nicola Bulley disappearance site’

Nicola Bulley search teams ‘faced poor visibility and challenging conditions’

14:50 , Emily Atkinson

Search teams in the Nicola Bulley investigation did the best job they could in challenging conditions and will be “gutted” she was not found sooner, a former police officer has said.

Graham Wettone told the PA news agency that conditions in the River Wyre would have been challenging with poor visibility and Ms Bulley’s body would have moved around during the time she was in the water.

He said he has spoken to underwater search experts who were supportive of what police and fire and rescue teams in Lancashire did.

The veteran former Metropolitan Police officer, who was in the force for 30 years, said: “That was a really difficult search.

“Really challenging conditions, you wouldn’t have been able to see much when you were underwater with the air tanks on, you’d have been almost doing it by touch, by feel.

“So it’s a really challenging searching environment. And it’s tidal, so it goes backwards and forwards.

“There’ll be channels and crevices and gaps in the riverbank as you go along where things can get lodged.”

Lancashire Police are carrying out their own internal review of the search for Ms Bulley, whose body was found in the River Wyre in Lancashire around a mile from where she was last seen alive.

Mr Wettone said: “They’ll be gutted they didn’t find her in a week or so. If they think they missed her they’ll be even more devastated.

“Because they’re working to meet the needs of the family, not the press, not the public, not the TikTok detectives, they’re trying to get some resolution for a family.”

Map: Where police searched – and where a body was found – after Nicola Bulley’s disappearance

14:30 , Eleanor Noyce

A map showing the exact location where a body was found in the search for missing dog walker Nicola Bulley, compared to where she was last seen and where her phone was found has been released.

A body was found in the River Wyre in the search for missing dog walker Nicola Bulley, Lancashire Police confirmed yesterday.

The body, which has not yet been identified, was found by two dog walkers a mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen, who alerted the police.

The two walkers made the find about a mile downstream of the River Wyre, and just south of a nearby caravan park and fish farm.

My colleague Martha McHardy reports:

Map shows where police searched and where body was found in Nicola Bulley search

Treatment of suffering families a “continuing issue in the media”, says former Ofcom exec

14:10 , Eleanor Noyce

Stewart Purvis, a former senior executive at Ofcom and former editor in chief of ITN, has said the way families going through a difficult time are approached is a “continuing issue in the media”.

It comes after the family of Nicola Bulley called for the press to “be held accountable”.

They criticised Sky News and ITV for contacting them after the body was discovered “when we expressly asked for privacy”.

Mr Purvis told LBC: “I think the whole issue of how you approach the families of those who have suffered, who are suffering from the disappearance and possibly the death of a loved one is a continuing issue in the media.”

He said it is “quite noticeable” that there has been no response from Sky News or ITV, adding: “What that tells me is that they are probably uncomfortable with the position they are in.

“I’m sure they don’t want to get into a public row with the family, but if they had a proper defence of this situation, I think we would have heard it from them by now, and I’m sure they’re clustered in a group at the moment trying to work out what to say.”

Police and media face questions and criticism over Nicola Bulley case

13:50 , Eleanor Noyce

Questions remain about the case of Nicola Bulley, with both the police and media facing criticism after her body was discovered more than three weeks after she disappeared.

Ms Bulley’s body was pulled from the River Wyre in Lancashire on Sunday after the 45-year-old was last seen on January 27.

She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school.

Lancashire Police called a press conference on Monday, where the force did not address the widespread criticism it had received for releasing some aspects of Ms Bulley’s private life into the public domain.

Police also did not disclose why it took 23 days to find her body in the river.

More here:

Police and media face questions and criticism over Nicola Bulley case

Nicola Bulley: Which groups have been criticised since she went missing?

13:30 , Emily Atkinson

The search for Nicola Bulley has concluded after police confirmed her body was found in a Lancashire river, but questions remain about a number of aspects of the case.

The police handling of her disappearance, the search around St Michael’s on Wyre, and the coverage through both traditional news outlets and social media channels have all attracted criticism.

Here, the PA news agency looks at key parts of the case that have come under scrutiny since Ms Bulley disappeared:

Nicola Bulley: Which groups have been criticised since she went missing?

TikTok takes action against Nicola Bulley conspiracy theorists who ‘disrupted’ search

13:16 , Eleanor Noyce

TikTok has threatened to remove users who spread misinformation about Nicola Bulley after the social media app was criticised for allowing conspiracy theories to spread on its platform during the search for the mother-of-two.

The social media app said it would “take action” against people who violated its community guidelines when posting content about the case of Ms Bulley.

Police confirmed on Monday that a body found in the river around 1 mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen was that of the missing 45-year-old.

Ms Bulley had been missing for more than three weeks and amateur detectives, online sleuths and social media influencers descended on St Michael’s on Wyre to look for her.

My colleague Matt Mathers reports:

TikTok takes action against Nicola Bulley conspiracy theorists who ‘disrupted’ search

No 10 expects Lancashire Police to be ‘transparent’ over probe into Nicola Bulley case

13:10 , Emily Atkinson

Downing Street said it expected Lancashire Police to be “transparent” about its internal investigation into the handling of the Nicola Bulley case.

Asked whether Rishi Sunak believed an independent, external review would be necessary, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Our position is to allow the existing process to report back.

“We would expect them to detail their findings and then obviously we will consider the next steps as appropriate.”

Pressed on whether the internal process would just see the force “marking their own homework”, the spokesman said: “These are long-established processes and we would expect the force to be transparent in their findings.

“That does not preclude further work at the end of that.”

Ofcom 'extremely concerned' by Nicola Bulley family comments about Sky and ITV

12:49 , Emily Atkinson

Ofcom has expressed concern following complaints made by Nicola Bulley’s family about ITV and Sky.

Bulley’s family singled out both corporations for personally contacting them despite asking press to respect their privacy.

The media watchdog has written to both “to ask them to explain their actions”.

A spokesperson said: “We are extremely concerned to hear the comments made by the family of Nicola Bulley about two broadcast licensees.

“We have written to ITV and Sky to ask them to explain their actions. We will then assess whether any further action is required.”

Jacob Stolworthy has this breaking story:

Ofcom ‘extremely concerned’ by Nicola Bulley family media complaints

Messages, flowers, and ribbons adorn a bridge over River Wyre

12:40 , Emily Atkinson

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (PA)
(PA)

Former detectives criticise Lancashire force: ‘Police didn’t find Nicola – dog walkers did’

12:10 , Emily Atkinson

The Lancashire police are facing increased pressure for an external review in the Nicola Bulley case after two dog walkers found her body just a mile down the river from where she went missing last month.

The failure by the investigators to recover the body despite 23 days of extensive search has positioned the Lancashire police in the line of public fury. They are also being criticised for disclosing personal information regarding Bulley’s menopause and alcohol consumption.

A former Scotland Yard detective questioned their search strategy as he mounted an attack on the investigators.

Namita Singh reports:

Lancashire Police criticised over Nicola Bulley search

Opinion: Nicola Bulley’s body has tragically now been found – will it bring closure?

11:38 , Emily Atkinson

When a loved one goes missing, there are hundreds of questions left waiting to be answered, writes psychologist Dr Jessica Taylor.

Will finding Nicola Bulley’s body bring her family closure?

Watch: Nicola Bulley: Social media ‘allowed’ user ‘conspiracy theories’, says former Met chief

10:39 , Emily Atkinson

‘Serious questions’ for Nicola Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days after disappearance

10:08 , Emily Atkinson

Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley have to answer “serious questions” over why it took more than three weeks to find her body in the River Wyre, experts have said.

Ms Bulley, 45, was found just a mile from where she was last seen, walking her dog after dropping her two daughters off at school on 27 January.

It was on an unremarkable stretch of the river, just past a slight bend, close to where a tree had fallen on its side with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden reports:

‘Serious questions’ for Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days later

Approaching suffering families a ‘continuing issue in media'

09:25 , Emily Atkinson

Stewart Purvis, a former senior executive at Ofcom and former editor in chief of ITN, has said the way families going through a difficult time are approached is a “continuing issue in the media”.

It comes after the family of Nicola Bulley called for the press to “be held accountable”.

They criticised Sky News and ITV for contacting them after the body was discovered “when we expressly asked for privacy”.

Mr Purvis told LBC: “I think the whole issue of how you approach the families of those who have suffered, who are suffering from the disappearance and possibly the death of a loved one is a continuing issue in the media.”

He said it is “quite noticeable” that there has been no response from Sky News or ITV, adding: “What that tells me is that they are probably uncomfortable with the position they are in.

“I’m sure they don’t want to get into a public row with the family, but if they had a proper defence of this situation, I think we would have heard it from them by now, and I’m sure they’re clustered in a group at the moment trying to work out what to say.”

It’s women’s fault when things go wrong, says former Met chief

09:05 , Emily Atkinson

Nusrit Mehtab, a former superintendent for the Metropolitan Police, has said she “did not understand” how disclosing elements of Nicola Bulley’s personal life “was going to help find her body or find her alive.”

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Ms Mehtab said: “If that comes out, and you’re already feeling isolated, and had she left on her own accord, does it make you all of a sudden want to come back and make that entry easier?”

“I think that it’s victim blaming and every time stuff happens with women - we haven’t heard about a man down the pub with erectile dysfunction that has pints every day. We don’t see those headlines because it’s always our fault.

“It’s our fault when things go wrong, and it always puts the lens back on women.”

Watch: Family of Nicola Bulley release statement after her body is discovered in River Wyre

08:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Watch Lancashire Police Head of Crime Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables read the statement from Nicola Bulley‘s family.

Press and members of the public ‘must be held accountable,’ family says

08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The press and members of the public “must be held accountable” for false accusations, misquotations and “vilifying” Nicola Bulley’s friends and relatives, her family has said.

In a statement read out at a press conference by Lancashire Police, they said: “It saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them [Nicola Bulley’s two daughters] that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.

“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable. This cannot happen to another family. We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day. Only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy.

They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.

“Do the press and other media channels and so-called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives. To those who genuinely helped and supported us privately we thank you.”

‘Serious questions’ for Nicola Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days after disappearance

08:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley have to answer “serious questions” over why it took more than three weeks to find her body in the River Wyre, experts have said.

Ms Bulley, 45, was found just a mile from where she was last seen, walking her dog after dropping her two daughters off at school on 27 January.

It was on an unremarkable stretch of the river, just past a slight bend, close to where a tree had fallen on its side with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

The same stretch of water has been searched both by police and a specialist company since the mother of two’s disappearance, with nothing being found as speculation in the case hit fever pitch and amateur sleuths travelled to St Michael’s on Wyre in their droves.

‘Serious questions’ for Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days later

Former detectives criticise Lancashire force: ‘Police didn’t find Nicola – dog walkers did’

07:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Lancashire police are facing increased pressure for an external review in the Nicola Bulley case after two dog walkers found her body just a mile down the river from where she went missing last month.

The failure by the investigators to recover the body despite 23 days of extensive search has positioned the Lancashire police in the line of public fury. They are also being criticised for disclosing personal information regarding Bulley’s menopause and alcohol consumption.

A former Scotland Yard detective questioned their search strategy as he mounted an attack on the investigators.

“The bottom line is Lancashire Police and all their experts and all their doctrines did not find Nicola,” Peter Bleksley told Sky News.

“Two people walking along a river bank did.”

Namita Singh reports:

Former detectives criticise Lancashire force: ‘Police didn’t find Nicola’

Nicola Bulley’s family launches attack on media as body identified

07:30 , Namita Singh

The family of Nicola Bulley launched a scathing attack on the media on Monday as police confirmed her body had been found in the River Wyre.

They said the mother of two’s partner Paul Ansell had been falsely accused of wrongdoing and that family and friends were “misquoted and vilified” during coverage of the search for her.

“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable,” they said in a statement. “This cannot happen to another family.”

My colleague Martha McHardy has more:

Nicola Bulley’s family launch attack on media after police identify body as loved one

Nicola Bulley’s body has tragically now been found – will it bring closure?

07:15 , Namita Singh

When a loved one goes missing, there are hundreds of questions left waiting to be answered, writes psychologist Dr Jessica Taylor.

Will finding Nicola Bulley’s body bring her family closure?

Keir Starmer offers condolences on Nicola Bulley’s death

07:00 , Namita Singh

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the news that Nicola Bulley’s body had been found “devastating”.

“My heart goes out to Nicola’s partner, children, family and friends,” he said.

Nicola Bulley’s family say she can finally ‘rest’, as questions remain over case

06:45 , Namita Singh

The family of Nicola Bulley have said they can let the mother of two “rest now”, as questions linger over why it took more than three weeks for her body to be discovered.

Bulley’s body was pulled from the River Wyre in Lancashire on Sunday after the 45-year-old was last seen on 27 January.

She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school.

Report:

Nicola Bulley’s family say she can finally ‘rest’, as questions remain over case

Nicola Bulley’s family speak of devastation as her body formally identified

06:30 , Namita Singh

The family of Nicola Bulley have said they will “never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments” as police confirmed her body was pulled from a river.

The mother-of-two was discovered on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire, more than three weeks on from when she disappeared.

She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27.

Lancashire Police called a press conference on Monday, where the force did not address the widespread criticism it had received for releasing some aspects of Ms Bulley’s private life into the public domain.

Police also did not disclose the reasons it had taken 23 days to find her body in the river.

Speaking at the force’s HQ, assistant chief constable Peter Lawson did confirm the body had been identified as Ms Bulley – and described the investigation as “hugely complex and highly emotional”.

Report:

Nicola Bulley’s family speak of devastation as her body formally identified

Downing Street declines to comment on external police review in Nicola Bulley’s case

06:00 , Namita Singh

Downing Street declined to comment on the possibility of an independent external review of Lancashire Police and its handling of the Nicola Bulley case.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “You have heard the concerns of the prime minister before.

“He welcomed the fact there was an internal investigation, I think the first step is to allow that to take place and see what the findings are, so I am not going to comment before that.”

Mounted police officers along the main road in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire (PA Wire)
Mounted police officers along the main road in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire (PA Wire)

“We think it is appropriate that this investigation is taking place.

“We will wait and see what the findings of that are before commenting further on the investigation, given it is a live case,” the spokesperson added.

And finally - the search itself

05:30 , Namita Singh

Despite extensive searches of the area, it took more than three weeks for Ms Bulley‘s body to be found in the River Wyre, about a mile away from where she was last seen.

Underwater search expert Peter Faulding was called in by the family to assist but said he was “baffled” after he failed to find her.

Neither his team or police divers found any trace of Ms Bulley in the section of the river they searched over three days.

Mr Faulding said he had only cleared the area around the bench where her mobile phone was found, and that the tidal section beyond the weir was “an open book”, according to MailOnline.

“We weren’t searching the reeds, our job was to search the water,” he said.

A map showing the exact location where a body in the search for missing dog walker Nicola Bulley was found has been released (Press Association Images)
A map showing the exact location where a body in the search for missing dog walker Nicola Bulley was found has been released (Press Association Images)

‘Media intrusion'

05:00 , Namita Singh

In a statement read by Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables after her body was identified, the family of 45-year-old Ms Bulley called for the press to “be held accountable”.

They said some media outlets and members of the public had accused Nicola’s partner, Paul Ansell, of wrongdoing and “misquoted and vilified friends and family”.

They also criticised Sky News and ITV for contacting them after the body was discovered “when we expressly asked for privacy”.

“They again, have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profiles. It is shameful they have acted in this way,” the family said.

Social media sleuths and speculation

04:30 , Namita Singh

Police accused “TikTokers” of “playing private detectives” near the scene of Ms Bulley‘s disappearance.

Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith said investigating officers have been “inundated with false information, accusations and rumours” relating to the case.

She said: “Some of it’s been quite shocking and really hurtful to the family.

“Obviously, we can’t disregard anything and we’ve reviewed everything that’s come in, but of course it has distracted us significantly.”

Social media influencer Dan Duffy was given a fixed penalty notice under section 4 of the Public Order Act - fear or provocation of violence - after he was arrested while filming for his YouTube channel, called Exploring With Danny.

'The police handling of the investigation’

04:00 , Namita Singh

Lancashire Constabulary has been criticised for disclosing personal information about Ms Bulley.

Following a press conference last week, the force revealed the mother-of-two’s struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “concerned that private information was put into the public domain” by officers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman spoke to the constabulary about her concerns but said she was not “wholly satisfied” with responses given by the chief constable.

 (PA)
(PA)

Which groups have been criticised since Nicola Bulley went missing?

03:30 , Namita Singh

The search for Nicola Bulley has concluded after police confirmed her body was found in a Lancashire river, but questions remain about a number of aspects of the case.

The police handling of her disappearance, the search around St Michael’s on Wyre, and the coverage through both traditional news outlets and social media channels have all attracted criticism.

Here are the key parts of the case that have come under scrutiny since Bulley disappeared on 27 January:

Nicola Bulley: Which groups have been criticised since she went missing?

Revealing Nicola Bulley’s alcohol and menopause problems “didn’t do anything”, former chief prosecutor claims

02:45 , Martha Mchardy

Revealing Nicola Bulley’s alcohol and menopause problems “didn’t do anything”, the former chief prosecutor has claimed.

In an interview with Times Radio, Nazir Afzal said Lancashire Police revealing Nicola Bulley’s problems with alcohol and the peri-menopause “didn’t do anything”.

Mr Afzal questioned why the police disclosed the information, claiming it was not “going to help us identify or find her”.

He continued: “There are all sorts of issues that need to be investigated.”

Amateur sleuths posting theories about Nicola Bulley “out of control” says former chief prosecutor

01:45 , Martha Mchardy

Amateur sleuths posting conspiracy theories about Nicola Bulley “out of control”, the former chief prosecutor said in an interview on Times Radio.

Nazir Afzal said social media is “out of control”, and said Ms Bulley’s family are “very upset” with how the tragedy has been handled on social media.

He said if he was the family’s lawyer, he would be suing the amateur sleuths posting conspiracy theories until they no longer “had access to a computer”.

Recap: The family statement in full

00:45 , Sam Rkaina

Here is the statement from Nicola Bulley‘s family, as read by Lancashire Police Head of Crime Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables:

“Our family liaison officers have had to confirm our worst fears today.

“We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.

“We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.

“Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.

“And it saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.

“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable this cannot happen to another family.

“We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy. They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.

“Do the press and other media channels and so called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives.

“To those who genuinely helped and supported us, privately, we thank you. The community support in St Michael’s, friends, neighbours and strangers has been nothing short of comforting and heart-warming. Friends you know who you are. Thank you.

“Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones. Keep that hope alive.

“Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.

“We love you, always have and always will, we will take it from here.”

‘Serious questions’ for Nicola Bulley probe after walkers find body 23 days after disappearance

Monday 20 February 2023 23:40 , Andy Gregory

Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley have to answer “serious questions” over why it took more than three weeks to find her body in the River Wyre, experts have said.

Nusrit Mehtab, a former Metropolitan Police superintendent, said that an independent inquiry should scrutinise the police investigation, decision-making and “poor communication strategy”.

“Some serious questions have to be asked about Lancashire Police’s decision-making,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “How did they miss that? There were three searches and even a private search as well.

“They didn’t share that information with this specialist search team that they brought in about the vulnerabilities, and yet they shared that information with the wider public.”

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden has the full report:

‘Serious questions’ for Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days later

Nicola Bulley’s family launch scathing attack on Sky News and ITV

Monday 20 February 2023 22:45 , Martha Mchardy

Nicola Bulley’s family launched a scathing attack on Sky News and ITV in a press conference today.

They criticised Sky News and ITV, claiming the broadcasters had reached out to them directly after the body was found on Sunday despite a plea for privacy.

They also criticised the media for falsely accusing Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, of wrongdoing and said that family and friends were “misquoted and vilified” during coverage of the search for her.

They said: “This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable.

“This cannot happen to another family.”

Nicola Bulley’s family pay tribute to her

Monday 20 February 2023 21:45 , Martha Mchardy

Nicola Bulley’s family paid tribute to her in a press conference today, saying they will never forget her.

They said: “We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.

“We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that. Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.”

Police had searched stretch of water where Nicola Bulley’s body was found

Monday 20 February 2023 21:35 , Andy Gregory

Nicola Bulley’s body was found just a mile from where the 45-year-old was last seen, walking her dog after dropping her two daughters off at school on 27 January, reports our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden.

It was on an unremarkable stretch of the river, just past a slight bend, close to where a tree had fallen on its side with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

The same stretch of water has been searched both by police and a specialist company since the mother of two’s disappearance, with nothing being found as speculation in the case hit fever pitch and amateur sleuths travelled to St Michael’s on Wyre in their droves.

Nicola Bulley’s family launch scathing attack on media after police confirm body is missing loved one

Monday 20 February 2023 20:23 , Andy Gregory

My colleague Martha McHardy has this report on the statement from Nicola Bulley’s family read out at this evening’s press conference:

Nicola Bulley’s family launch attack on media after police identify body as loved one

Watch: Everything we know about Nicola Bulley’s disappearance so far

Monday 20 February 2023 19:31 , Andy Gregory

Map: Where police searched and where body was found

Monday 20 February 2023 19:01 , Andy Gregory

 (Press Association Images)
(Press Association Images)

Police say Nicola Bulley case has had ‘huge impact’ on St Michael’s residents

Monday 20 February 2023 18:43 , Andy Gregory

Lancashire Police has acknowledged the “huge impact that Nicola’s disappearance has had on her family and friends, but also on the people of St Michael’s”.

My colleague Martha McHardy has more in this report:

Body found in Nicola Bulley search is the missing mother-of-two, police confirm

Sir Keir Starmer laments ‘devastating’ news of Nicola Bulley’s death

Monday 20 February 2023 18:28 , Andy Gregory

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the news that Nicola Bulley’s body had been found “devastating”.

“My heart goes out to Nicola’s partner, children, family and friends,” he said.

Family’s statement in full as Nicola Bulley’s body is found in River Wyre

Monday 20 February 2023 18:16 , Andy Gregory

Monday 20 February 2023 18:05 , Andy Gregory

Here are some images from the press conference, at which Lancashire Police confirmed that Nicola Bulley’s body had been found in the River Wyre.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables and Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson speak at a press conference outside Lancashire Police Headquarters in Hutton (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables and Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson speak at a press conference outside Lancashire Police Headquarters in Hutton (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
 (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)
(Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

‘We will take it from here,’ say Nicola Bulley’s family

Monday 20 February 2023 17:58 , Andy Gregory

Nicola Bulley’s family have urged others with missing loved ones to “keep that hope alive”.

Concluding a statement read out by Lancashire Police, the family said: “Friends, you know who you are. Thank you.

“Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones, keep that hope alive.

“Finally, Nikki. You are no longer a missing person. You have been found. We can let you rest now. We love you, always have and always will. We will take it from here.”

Press and public ‘must be held accountable’ over Nicola Bulley case, say family

Monday 20 February 2023 17:42 , Andy Gregory

The press and members of the public “must be held accountable” for false accusations, misquotations and “vilifying” Nicola Bulley’s friends and relatives, her family has said.

In a statement read out at a press conference by Lancashire Police, they said: “It saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them [Nicola Bulley’s two daughters] that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.

“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable. This cannot happen to another family. We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day. Only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy.

They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.

“Do the press and other media channels and so-called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives. To those who genuinely helped and supported us privately we thank you.”

Nicola Bulley was ‘centre of our world’, say family

Monday 20 February 2023 17:40 , Andy Gregory

Nicola Bulley’s family have said they “will never forget” the mother-of-two who was “the centre of our world”.

In a statement read out by Lancashire Police, they said: “Our family liaison officers have had to confirm our worst fears today. We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.

“We will never forget Nikki – how could we? She was the centre of our world. She was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.

“Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.”

Case now being handled by coroner, police announce

Monday 20 February 2023 17:35 , Andy Gregory

The case is now being handled by His Majesty’s Coroner, police have said.

Body found in River Wyre confirmed to be Nicola Bulley, police say

Monday 20 February 2023 17:33 , Andy Gregory

Police have confirmed that the body found in the River Wyre on Sunday is Nicola Bulley.

“Sadly we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre. Nicola’s family have been informed and are of course devastated,” a senior officer said.

“Our thoughts are with them at this time, as well as with all her loved ones and the wider community.”

No 10 declines to comment on possibility of external review into Lancashire Police

Monday 20 February 2023 17:19 , Andy Gregory

Downing Street has declined to comment on the possibility of an independent external review of Lancashire Police and its handling of the Nicola Bulley case.

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson said: “You have heard the concerns of the prime minister before.

“He welcomed the fact there was an internal investigation, I think the first step is to allow that to take place and see what the findings are, so I am not going to comment before that. We think it is appropriate that this investigation is taking place.”

“We will wait and see what the findings of that are before commenting further on the investigation, given it is a live case,” the spokesman added.

In pictures: Mounted police patrol in St Michael’s on Wyre after body found

Monday 20 February 2023 17:00 , Emily Atkinson

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It’s women’s fault when things go wrong, says former Met chief

Monday 20 February 2023 16:20 , Emily Atkinson

Nusrit Mehtab, a former superintendent for the Metropolitan Police, has said she “did not understand” how disclosing elements of Nicola Bulley’s personal life “was going to help find her body or find her alive.”

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Mehtab said: “If that comes out, and you’re already feeling isolated, and had she left on her own accord, does it make you all of a sudden want to come back and make that entry easier?”

“I think that it’s victim blaming and every time stuff happens with women - we haven’t heard about a man down the pub with erectile dysfunction that has pints every day. We don’t see those headlines because it’s always our fault.

“It’s our fault when things go wrong, and it always puts the lens back on women.”

Lancashire Police will have to ‘justify’ disclosures relating to Nicola Bulley’s private life, says former police chief

Monday 20 February 2023 16:00 , Emily Atkinson

Lancashire Police will have to “justify” its decision to disclose details of Nicola Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and menopause, a former police chief has said.

Ex-chief constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy added: “They felt it was in the interest, and the public interest, of the investigation to release that information. I don’t know if it was right or wrong.

“I think the level of criticism has been completely unjustified,” he told Sky News.

“There’s a wider issue here about when officers are under this degree of press interest... but particularly all the issues on social media, which I know are very difficult to counter.”

Sir Peter also said there was pressure on detectives by members of the public travelling to St Michael’s on Wyre to conduct their own searches.

He said that the force’s communication strategy will be accountable to the region’s police and crime commissioner, and that “huge amounts of personal details are released about a person’s personal medical, mental health background” during an inquest.

Serious questions’ for Nicola Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days after disappearance

Monday 20 February 2023 15:30 , Emily Atkinson

Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley have to answer “serious questions” over why it took more than three weeks to find a body in the River Wyre, experts have said.

Lancashire Police have not yet confirmed whether the person, who was found by dog walkers on Sunday morning, is Ms Bulley and formal identification is ongoing, but her family have been made aware of developments.

The body was found just a mile from where the 45-year-old was last seen, walking her dog after dropping her two daughters off at school on 27 January.

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden reports:

‘Serious questions’ for Bulley probe after dog walkers find body 23 days later

Map of area where Nicola Bulley went missing

Monday 20 February 2023 15:10 , Emily Atkinson

 (Press Association Images)
(Press Association Images)

ICYMI: Lancashire Police statement in full as divers find body in search for Nicola Bulley

Monday 20 February 2023 14:50 , Emily Atkinson

Divers searching for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley have found a body in the river, police have confirmed.

Lancashire Police has been carrying out an extensive search since Nicola Bulley vanished three weeks ago, with the help of private search teams.

The force earlier this week doubled down on the theory that the mother-of-two fell into the river.

Martha McCardy has Lancashire Police’s statement in full below:

Nicola Bulley: Lancashire Police statement in full as divers find body

Missing dog walker Nicola Bulley’s final text before she disappeared revealed

Monday 20 February 2023 14:25 , Emily Atkinson

Missing dog walker Nicola Bulley’s final text before she “vanished into thin air” has been revealed.

The desperate search for missing mother Nicola Bulley may have come to an end after a body was found in the river near where she vanished. A man and woman walking their dog on Sunday morning found the body and called police.

The 45-year-old was last seen walking her dog by the river in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on Friday 27 January. She was still logged into a Microsoft Teams call which had ended at 9.30am when her phone was recovered.

Eleanor Noyce reports:

Missing dog walker Nicola Bulley’s final text message revealed

Monday 20 February 2023 14:00 , Emily Atkinson

More messages and flowers for missing Nicola Bulley are pictured tied to a bridge crossing the River Wyre, in St Michael's on Wyre, following the discovery of a body.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (PA)
(PA)

Watch: Diver Peter Faulding says he is the ‘fall guy’ after body found in river

Monday 20 February 2023 13:35 , Emily Atkinson

Timeline of Nicola Bulley disappearance

Monday 20 February 2023 13:25 , Emily Atkinson

A body has been found in the search for missing woman Nicola Bulley after a tip-off by members of the public.

The 45-year-old, was last seen on Friday 27 January at around 9.20am while walking her dog alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

Ms Bulley’s phone was found, apparently still connected to a Microsoft Teams work call, on a park bench nearby, along with the harness and lead for her dog, Willow, a springer spaniel.

Here is a timeline of how the case has unfolded:

Timeline of Nicola Bulley disappearance as body found in search for missing woman

Rumours, a river and a private diver: How the three-week search for Nicola Bulley unfolded

Monday 20 February 2023 13:10 , Emily Atkinson

The desperate search for missing mother Nicola Bulley may have come to an end after a body was found in the river near where she vanished.

A tip-off by walkers led specialist divers to find a body on Sunday, and although it has not yet been formally identified, Ms Bulley’s family has been informed of the discovery.

It comes after three weeks of desperate searches of the river and surrounding area, while social-media sleuths spread conspiracy theories and others descended on St Michael’s on Wyre – with some even filming through villagers’ windows.

Martha McHardy reports:

Rumours, a river and a private diver: How the search for Nicola Bulley unfolded

Monday 20 February 2023 12:43 , Emily Atkinson

The co-founder of a social justice organisation has hit out at police for allowing social media to “dictate” their handling of the Nicola Bulley case.

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Reclaim These Streets co-founder Jamie Klinger said it was “sad that social media aspects seem to dictate Lancashire Police’s theories and the way they were dealing with it, rather than the other way around.

“They don’t have to respond to TikTok detectives. They really needed to do their investigation independently,” she insisted.

She later intoned that disclosing details of Ms Bulley’s private life “didn’t help find her and didn’t help her family.”

She said that for the rest of Ms Bulley’s childrens’ lives “any time they Google or see something about their mum it will be attached to a stigma about alcohol and the menopause.”

Ms Klinger then went on to accuse police of “dialling back efforts” to remove the stigma from menopause.

The women still missing as police continue search for Nicola Bulley

Monday 20 February 2023 12:20 , Emily Atkinson

As the search for Nicola Bulley continues, my colleague Maryam Zakir-Hussain takes a look at the cases of other women who remain missing:

The women still missing as police continue search for Nicola Bulley

Braverman not ‘wholly satisfied’ with force’s response to private life disclosures

Monday 20 February 2023 12:01 , Emily Atkinson

The Home Secretary has said she was not “wholly satisfied” with the response of Lancashire Police’s chief constable to questions about their decision to release elements of Nicola Bulley’s private life into the public domain.

Asked if there would be an external review into the police’s handling of the case, Suella Braverman said: “I want to put on record my deepest thoughts and sympathies for the family of Nicola Bulley, it must be a horrendous experience that they are going through right now.

“We need to let the police carry out and conclude their investigation. I did have concerns earlier in the week about some of the elements relating to the release of personal information of Nicola Bulley into the public domain.

 (PA)
(PA)

“I raised those concerns with the chief constable - I wasn’t wholly satisfied, I have to say, with some of the responses I got but it is a matter for the police themselves.

“There are some investigations ongoing, looking into how the investigation has been handled and we must let that carry out its own process.

“We must just let the investigation conclude, and then we will see what the investigations and inquiries come back with.”

Social media firms ‘allowed’ conspiracies about Nicola Bulley investigation, ex-Met chief superintendent says

Monday 20 February 2023 11:41 , Emily Atkinson

Social media ‘allowed’ Nicola Bulley conspiracies, ex-Met chief superintendent says

Starmer urges critics to await full review into handling of Nicola Bulley case

Monday 20 February 2023 11:20 , Emily Atkinson

Sir Keir Starmer has urged people to await the full review of the police’s handling of Nicola Bulley’s disappearance before coming to a judgment.

Speaking to broadcasters in Grays, Essex, the Labour leader said: “First and foremost I think all of us will be thinking about the family and the circumstances unfolding and the agony that they’re going through.

“Obviously we want the investigation to be now completed so we can get to the absolute bottom of this, there will be a review so if there have been mistakes along the way, the review will get to the bottom of those mistakes.

 (PA)
(PA)

“Let the investigation go its full length now, let’s have that review and then we can see whether the judgments were the right judgments.

“In my experience when I was director of public prosecutions very often where there is a review, some judgments which at the time didn’t seem particularly appropriate, are capable of being explained.”