Missing Woman Nicola Bulley Coverage Prompts U.K. Media Watchdog to Question Sky, ITV

U.K. media watchdog Ofcom has written to broadcasters Sky and ITV regarding their coverage of Nicola Bulley, a woman who went missing in Lancashire while walking her dog last month.

Bulley’s disappearance made national (and even international) news within days of her being reported missing partly due to some of the unusual details of the case. Among them was the fact her cell phone was found on a bench near a river still logged into a Microsoft Teams work conference. Her dog was also found nearby. Divers, including private search teams, scoured the river but could not find any sign of Bulley, who had two young daughters. (Picture above is the bench where Bulley’s phone was found).

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On Sunday, after some three weeks of searching, a couple walking near the river spotted a body. It was later confirmed to be Bulley’s.

On Monday evening, the family released a statement in which they criticized media coverage of the case.

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

Following the family’s statement, Ofcom confirmed they had written to ITV and Sky. “We are extremely concerned to hear the comments made by the family of Nicola Bulley about two broadcast licensees,” said a spokesperson for Ofcom. “We have written to ITV and Sky to ask them to explain their actions. We will then assess whether any further action is required.”

Sky News declined to comment but a source close to the broadcaster confirmed they had received a letter from Ofcom notifying them of their investigation and said the broadcaster would be working closely with the media regulator to answer all their questions.

A spokesperson for ITV said: “As a responsible broadcaster, we will cooperate 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.”

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