Nicola Bulley's partner says 'there has to be a way to find out what happened'

The partner of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has said the family will never give up hope of finding her.

Paul Ansell said they were going through ‘unprecedented hell’.

‘But that hope and that positivity in me is stronger than ever, and I’m never, ever going to let go,’ he told 5 News presenter Dan Walker.

‘Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn’t give up on anybody. And we’re not gonna ever give up on her like, we’re going to find her.’

Paul added: ‘There has to be a way to find out what happened, there has to be. You cannot, you cannot walk your dog down a river and just vanish into thin air.

‘Something happened that day, something…’

His comments come ahead of Vanished: What Happened To Nicola Bulley?, which will air on Channel 5 at 9pm on Friday.

The programme comes as police announced an investigation into reports of a ‘shabby’ red van seen near where she went missing.

It was seen close to Ms Bulley’s walking route on the morning she disappeared, parked in a lane near the school where she dropped her two daughters before walking her dog by the river.

The vehicle was described by a witness as being a faded red-coloured high-sided Renault or Transit.

He told The Sun: ‘Obviously, I don’t know whether this van is related to Nicola’s disappearance. All I know is that something grabbed my attention. I felt compelled to tell police about it.

‘Even though it was down the road, as the crow flies it’s quite close to where Nicola was last seen.’

The witness, who asked not to be named, said he spotted the van in Hall Lane at around 9.40am, saying ‘it looked suspicious but in that moment it didn’t mean anything’.

Family and friends of Ms Bulley have questioned the police theory that she probably fell into the water while walking her dog, after dropping her children off at school on January 27.

And the underwater search expert called in to help look for her said the case is a ‘complete mystery’ after failing to find any sign of her.

Peter Faulding and his team, from rescue operation Specialist Group International, have been searching the area around the bench, the ‘entry point’ where it is believed by police Ms Bulley fell into the water.

But he said their three-day involvement ended on Wednesday after a ‘thorough and extensive search of the areas we were tasked with by Lancashire Police’ found ‘no sign of Nicola’.

On what he thinks happened to her, he told said: ‘It’s a total mystery for me, I really don’t know.

‘In all the searches I’ve done, this is one which will stick with me.

‘Normally we get tasked with, you know, searching for a knife or a body and there’s been a witness to a drowning or we’ve got really good intelligence.

‘The sort of information we’ve got here is a mobile phone on a bench but we don’t know anything else.

‘I’m glad really that we haven’t found Nicola because I didn’t want to recover another dead body.

‘It just opens it up, is she alive, is she dead? Did she go in the river or didn’t she? And I can’t say one way or another. I’m baffled by it and I think most people are.’

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