‘British FBI’ called in to help with search for Nicola Bulley

Nicola Bulley: Ex-detective ‘confused’ at police’s alcohol comment

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Police officers from Britain’s equivalent of the FBI have been drafted in to investigate the disappearance of Nicola Bulley at the request of the under-pressure Lancashire Police. And a forensic clinical psychologist and a canine behavioural expert – or dog whisperer – has also been summoned in the hope of gleaning clues about what has happened to the 45-year-old mortgage advisor, from St Michael’s on Wyre, who has not been seen since January 27.

Police have said their “main hypothesis” is that she fell in the River Wyre.

An unnamed detective is heading up a team of experts from the National Crime Agency (NCA), and is understood to be offering advice to Lancashire’s Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith, the senior investigating officer.

He in turn is believed to have recommended bringing in external experts, including digital media specialists who will examine Ms Bulley’s phone and other electronic devices for clues.

The detective previously worked on the case of PCSO Julia James, who was beaten to death near the village of Aylesham, Kent in 2021 while out walking her dog.

He also investigated hospital worker David Fuller, who murdered two women in 1987 and who was convicted following a cold case review 20 years later later. Fuller, 68, also abused the bodies of dozens of women and girls in hospital mortuaries.

Lancashire Police are also thought to have requested the help of the animal behaviour expert, who will study Willow, Ms Bulley’s spaniel, found close to the bench by the river on which the mum-of-two’s mobile phone was discovered on the day she went missing.

The force has faced criticism in recent days after revealing Ms Bulley had faced “significant issues with alcohol” apparently triggered by the menopause.

The NCA was launched in 2013 and can be tasked with investigating any high-profile case.

An NCA spokesman said: “A national senior investigating officer adviser from the NCA is leading a team of officers from the agency’s major crime investigative support unit, who are providing tactical advice and guidance, as well as access to a number of specialists.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Det Supt Smith said Ms Bulley had unspecified “vulnerabilities” which resulted in her being categorised her as a “high-risk” missing person.

The force subsequently revealed the problems were related to alcohol, with the announcement believed to be an attempt to an anticipated tabloid newspaper story chronicling Ms Bulley’s struggles.

An insider familiar with the investigation told The Sunday Times: “They made a mistake and over-reacted. These kind of private details were never going to be published in any newspaper.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has spoken with police leaders about the disclosure with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he too was “concerned”.

A source close to the Home Secretary said Ms Braverman had outlined her concerns over the disclosure during a meeting with Chief Constable Chris Rowley on Friday and “asked to be kept updated on the investigation”.

Nicola Bulley police launch probe after using ‘troubling’ tactics [NEWS]
Nicola Bulley could have just ‘walked away,’ says ex-police chief [REVEAL]
Dog walker tells of moment he found Nicola Bulley’s phone on bench [INSIGHT]

Speaking today, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said the disclosure of private information about missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley was “shocking”.

She told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “It’s quite shocking. And I think that both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are right to raise concerns about this.

“I mean, the first thing I felt was for her family. I mean, it’s bad enough having had your loved one go missing, but to have had all the additional drama that’s accompanied this very tragic case is horrific.

“And I think it it really does grate with a lot of women and we have to put up with all kinds of sexist behaviour in all kinds of settings. And I think to have it play out in this kind of environment is why people are so upset.”

Asked whether police displayed sexism in their dealing with the case, Ms Mordaunt said: “I think that they clearly were motivated to try and explain why this case is a complex one. But I think there are serious questions to be asked about why they wanted to reveal particular information.”

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