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Saturday, 18 November, 2023

Home Secretary awaiting result of police review of handling of Nicola Bulley case

Home Secretary awaiting result of police review of handling of Nicola Bulley case

Suella Braverman says she’ll see what Lancashire Police’s own enquiries ‘come back with’

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”.

A body was found on Sunday morning around a mile from where the mother-of-two went missing after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27.

Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, told Sky News of his “agony” after the discovery was made in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road in St Michael’s on Wyre at around 11.35am.

It is understood a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body and called police.

The force have not yet formally identified the body, and in a statement released on Sunday, they said the death was being treated as unexplained.

On Monday morning, police officers and community support officers could be seen on patrol in the village, but no police presence remained at the section of the river where the body was discovered.

Asked whether there would be an external review into the police’s handling of the case, Ms 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.

“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.”

Ms Braverman added: “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.”

The body was found on an unremarkable stretch of the river, just past a slight bend, a mile or so outside the village, close to where a tree had fallen on its side half in and half outside the water, with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

On Sunday, police had erected a tent and cordoned off the lane while divers were called in, but the road was reopened around three hours later once the body was recovered.

The police diving team could be seen conducting the search while a drone and helicopter flew above.

Underwater search expert Peter Faulding, who was called in by Ms Bulley’s family to help find her, found no trace of her in the section of river searched by his team and police divers 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.

The investigation into Ms Bulley’s disappearance has attracted widespread speculation as well as criticism of the police response.

The force came under fire after making her struggles with alcohol and peri-menopause public three weeks after she vanished.

In a press conference on Wednesday, police revealed the mother-of-two was classed as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after Mr Ansell reported her disappearance, “based on a number of specific vulnerabilities”.

They later added in a statement that Ms Bulley, from Inskip in Lancashire, had stopped taking her HRT medication.

Bob Eastwood, former chief superintendent with Lancashire Police, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the case will be a “watershed moment” in how police deal with public interest.

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

A public backlash and interventions from the Government and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper followed the press conference, with Lancashire Police confirming a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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