Nicola’s family plea for end to ‘appalling’ speculation over her life

Nicola Bulley had 'significant issues' with alcohol say police

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Their plea came after Lancashire Police was criticised for disclosing that the mother-of-two suffered “some significant issues with alcohol” in the past, which had resurfaced over recent months. Senior officers said that Ms Bulley was “vulnerable” and classed by police as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner Paul Ansell reported her disappearance.

Now the family have stepped in and called for people online to stop speculating on Nicola’s personal health struggles and focus solely on the search to bring her home to her two daughters, aged six and nine.

In a statement issued through the force, Ms Bulley’s family said: “It has now been three weeks since Nikki went missing. We, as a family, believe that the public focus has become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life.

“As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire Police released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki.

“Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop.

“The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.”

Shedding more light on the exact nature of her health issues, the family added: “Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help.

“But this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis.

“The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life.

“Despite what some media outlets and individuals are suggesting, we are being updated daily and receive support from our family liaison officers.”

And in a public plea to Nicola to come home they ended by pleading: “Your girls want a cuddle.”

The statement read: “Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives.

“Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home.

“You can reach out to us, or you can contact Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.”

Ms Bulley’s parents, Ernest, 73, and Dot Bulley, 72, left a yellow ribbon tied to the bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, where their daughter vanished on January 27.

Among other ribbons left by friends and well-wishers, the message from Ms Bulley’s parents read: “We pray every day for you. Love you, Mum + Dad XXX”.

A second ribbon, believed to be from Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, read: “Nikki please come home. I love you. Lou XXX”.

Asked about the move by police, Heather Gibbons, a family friend who has helped in the search, said: “The family have asked me not to talk to the media now.”

Lancashire Police has also revealed they had referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the January 10th contact they had with Nicola, two weeks before her disappearance.

It means the watchdog responsible for scrutinising police conduct could investigate the force over its handling of the case.

A spokesman for the IOPC said: “This afternoon we received a referral from Lancashire Constabulary regarding contact the force had with Nicola Bulley on January 10, prior to her disappearance.

“We are assessing the available information to determine whether an investigation into that contact may be required and if so, who should conduct that investigation.”

Ms Bulley vanished after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

She was last seen at 9.10am taking her usual route with her springer spaniel Willow, alongside the River Wyre.

Her phone, still connected to a work call for her job as a mortgage adviser, was found just over 20 minutes later on a bench overlooking the riverbank, with her dog running loose.

“The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her,” the statement said.

After police revealed her issues with alcohol “brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause”, the force was strongly condemned by MPs and campaign groups.

A source close to Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “The Home Secretary was concerned by the disclosure of Nicola Bulley’s personal information by Lancashire Police and asked the force for an explanation, which was received on Thursday evening.”

Speaking to broadcasters, Home Office minister Robert Jenrick described the force’s comments as “unusual” but said it would not be right for him to speculate on why they were made.

Conservative police and crime commissioner for Lancashire, Andrew Snowden, said the force are being “as transparent as they can be” following the press conference.

TV presenter Fern Britton was one to pour fury on the police for revealing Nicola’s battle with menopause, declaring that it is “too easy to write a woman off like this”.

The broadcaster, 65, has spoken openly about the impact the “horrible” symptoms had on her own health and yesterday(Thurs) said she was angry that Nicola was depicted by police as ‘a bit unstable’ or ‘not in her right mind’, even though an estimated 13million women in the UK are also battling the menopause.

Ms Britton said: “I am uncomfortable with the latest news suggesting that Nicola Bulley has an issue with alcohol and menopause.

“The undertone is that she may be ‘a bit unstable’ or perhaps even ‘not in her right mind’. Too easy to write a woman off like this. What lies behind it?”

Former detective Martyn Underhill said he had never “seen such a level of detail” released in a missing persons case, adding: “You can understand why some people are saying it’s victim blaming to protect their own reputation.”

Former Crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal said: “It should not have been issued. It does nothing to find her. It does, however, give fuel to the victim blamers, armchair sleuths and conspiracy theorists. We don’t need any of them.”

Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, tweeted: “Lancashire Police broadcasting Nicola’s hormone status to the world is a serious invasion of her privacy.”

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said: “To disclose this level of detail on a missing person’s private life is deeply troubling.”

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “I struggle to ascertain how this will assist police in their search. I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish.”

Source: Read Full Article