Nicola Bulley’s family plea for end to speculation over her private life

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The family of Nicola Bulley have called for an end to the “speculation and rumours” about her private life.

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 on Wednesday that Ms Bulley was “vulnerable” and classed by police as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner Paul Ansell reported her disappearance.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had made contact with the force to “determine if a referral to the IOPC may be required” after details about Ms Bulley’s private life were disclosed in a press conference.

But in a statement issued through the force on Thursday, Ms Bulley’s family said: “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, last night, 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.”

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

Nicola Bulley missing
Lancashire Police were criticised for disclosing Ms Bulley’s ‘significant issues with alcohol’ (Peter Powell/PA)

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.

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.

Ms Bulley’s family said significant side effects of the perimenopause she suffered included brain fog.

“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.”

Concluding their statement, Ms Bulley’s family issued a direct plea for her to return, saying: “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.

Nicola Bulley missing
A yellow ribbon, with a message from Nicola Bulley’s parents written on it, is tied to a bridge over the River Wyre (Peter Byrne/PA)

“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.

Nicola Bulley missing
Ms Bulley’s family have pleaded with her to return home (Peter Byrne/PA)

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.”

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