Authorities planning the inquest into Nicola Bulley’s death were forced to spend thousands of pounds on additional security measures, new figures have revealed, following the intense speculation over her disappearance.
The mother-of-two went missing in St Michael’s on Wyre while walking her dog on the morning of 24 January after dropping her two young children off at school nearby, sparking a weeks-long search of the River Wyre and surrounding area before her body was discovered on 19 February.
An inquest at Lancashire County Hall in June found no evidence of third-party involvement in the 45-year-old mortgage adviser’s death, which was ruled to be accidental, with Ms Bulley deemed to have suffered “cold water shock”.
The case had attracted widespread media attention and drew TikTok sleuths to visit the Lancashire town during the investigation – with police hitting out at “ill-informed speculation and conspiracy theories” in a statement issued in the wake of the verdict.
Ms Bulley’s family also said they had “continued to receive negative targeted messages” and criticised “wildly inaccurate speculation being shared on numerous platforms.”
Security was a priority at the inquest, which took months of planning, according to the LancsLive website, which has obtained new details of the cost of additional security measures.
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request reveals that Lancashire County Council spent thousands of pounds on commissioning a private security firm to staff the inquest, amid concerns that those who had descended upon St Michael’s Upon Wyre could make an appearance.
According to the figures, it cost the council £11,049 to hold the inquest at Lancashire County Hall, including £4,114 handed to private security firm FGH.
The firm provided guards to man the doors of the building and the rooms inside, with one also stationed at Preston Coroner’s Court in case members of the public mistakenly made their way there, according to LancsLive.
The council was not charged for additional police patrols, with mounted officers patrolling the streets near the inquest venue on 26 June, the website reports.
Other costs revealed by the FoI request include: £387 for security sundries (bags, tags, lanyards, badges and barriers); £1,600 for an Auditel engineer; £331 for catering; £3,675 to relocate other events; and £950 for traffic management.
During the inquest, Lancashire’s senior coroner Dr James Adeley had threatened imprisonment or fines to anyone who intended to disrupt the proceedings.
He concluded that Ms Bulley had died an accidental death and did not have “any desire” to take her own life.
In his witness statement, her heartbroken partner Paul Ansell described her as “an incredible mum,” who had enjoyed simple pleasures such as caring for her two daughters and enjoying walks in the countryside.
He said: “Nikki was a quiet person who enjoyed the simple side of life. She was a very private person and kept herself to herself.”