Nicola Bulley: 'Agony' for family as they continue to await formal identification of body found in search for missing mother

The family of Nicola Bulley are in "agony" as they continue to await the formal identification of a body found in the river near to where she went missing.

The body was found about a mile from where Ms Bulley was last seen walking her dog beside the River Wyre in Lancashire after she dropped her daughters off at school.

It is understood that a man and a woman walking their dog near to the river called the police to report seeing a person in the water, with officers then launching a search.

On Sunday, Ms Bulley's partner Paul Ansell told Sky News: "No words right now, just agony.

"We're all together, we have to be strong."

Lancashire Police said the body is yet to be formally identified and it is "unable to say whether this is Nicola Bulley at this time".

"Procedures to identify the body are ongoing," the force said.

"We are currently treating the death as unexplained.

"Nicola's family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times."

Sky's Inzamam Rashid said the police operation at the scene on Sunday was "huge" and included drones and underwater divers.

He added that senior police officers were present including senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith, who is leading the search for the missing mother-of-two.

Ms Bulley was last seen at about 9.10am on 27 January while walking her dog, Willow, in St Michael's on Wyre.

The springer spaniel was found shortly after, along with Ms Bulley's mobile phone, which was discovered on a bench beside a steep riverbank.

The phone was still connected to a work conference call.

Officers have said their main working hypothesis is that the mortgage adviser fell into the river, but her friends and family had claimed there was "no evidence whatsoever" to support that theory.

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman 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 case.

She 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".

Police had earlier said Ms Bulley had suffered "significant issues with alcohol" which had been brought on by "ongoing struggles with the menopause".

The revelation of such personal information sparked criticism from many, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, but Ms Bulley's family said they were "aware beforehand that Lancashire Police released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki".

They said: "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 public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life."

The case has attracted huge public interest, especially from amateur sleuths and social media video-makers, who have been coming up with their own theories for Ms Bulley's disappearance.

Police have said these people and their actions have "distracted significantly" from the official investigation.