Dame Vera Baird: Nicola Bulley alcohol and menopause disclosure ‘as sexist as it comes’
The decision by police to divulge Nicola Bulley’s struggles with the menopause and alcohol is “as sexist as it comes”, The former victims’ commissioner for England and Wales has said.
Dame Vera Baird said it was highly unlikely that such details would have been released had Ms Bulley been a man.
Speaking as the search for the missing mother of two entered its third week on Friday, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Would we have had police officers saying, you know, if it was Nicholas, he’s been unfortunately tied down with alcohol because he’s been suffering from erectile dysfunction for the last few weeks?
“I think not. You can hear all the senior police officers squirming as I say it, I would have thought. No, it is a dreadful error to put this in the public domain for absolutely nothing, and I’m afraid I think it’s as sexist as it comes.”
Her comments come after the Home Secretary on Thursday demanded Lancashire Constabulary explain its decision to reveal Ms Bulley’s issues with alcohol and the menopause.
Suella Braverman is understood to have been concerned by the move as Ms Bulley’s family released a statement clarifying that she had a “crisis” brought on after she stopped taking HRT because of the side effects.
The force has been accused of “victim blaming” and of eroding the confidence of women in the police over the way it has dealt with Ms Bulley’s disappearance as she walked her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre on Jan 27.
Elderly residents in the village where the mortgage advisor disappeared have also been forced to hire a security company to deter amateur sleuths from knocking on their doors, the council has revealed.
Michael Vincent, the leader of Wyre District Council, said the village has been inundated with people coming “to play detective”, telling the BBC: “Breaking into properties, the pumping station by the river, peering into people’s windows, trying door handles, you name it. There is a really dark element to people and people’s interest in this case.”
Appearing on Sky News, he added: “People have reported being sat in their living rooms in an afternoon watching television and people coming up to the windows, peering in, trying the doors – it’s been terrifying for them.
“These are typically older people extremely scared in their own homes. The residents have had to employ an external security company. That’s just not acceptable.”
Ms Bulley’s family have pleaded for amateur detectives to stop circulating “appalling” rumours and to let the police focus on finding her.
Her partner Paul Ansell, 44, and her relatives said they were hurt by people “making up wild theories about her personal life” and urged the public to focus on finding her.