Nicola Bulley: Former police chiefs say there will be questions to answer over investigation

There will need to be answers and justifications over the release of Nicola Bulley's struggles during the investigation into her disappearance, two former police chiefs have told Sky News.

It has been more than three weeks since the 45-year-old went missing in St Michael's On Wyre in Lancashire, with her disappearance prompting a huge search.

On Sunday, police pulled a body from the river close to where she was last seen, though no formal identification has taken place.

During the search, Lancashire Police released details surrounding Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and the menopause, which drew widespread criticism, including from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Former chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy told Sky's Kay Burley that the neighbouring force will have to "justify" their reasoning.

However, he added: "They felt it was in the interest, and the public interest, of the investigation to release that information. I don't know if it was right or wrong.

"I think the level of criticism has been completely unjustified.

"There's a wider issue here about when officers are under this degree of press interest... but particularly all the issues on social media, which I know are very difficult to counter."

He also said there was pressure on the force from the likes of members of the public coming into the area and trying to conduct their own investigations.

Sir Peter added that the officers communication strategy will be accountable to the region's elected police and crime commissioner, and that "huge amounts of personal details are released about a person's personal medical, mental health background" during an inquest.

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Meanwhile, Nusrit Mehtab, a former superintendent for the Metropolitan Police, told Kay Burley she took a different view.

"I think, when the dust settles, obviously some hard questions about the decision-making of Lancashire Police have to be asked," she said.

"Releasing a woman's private information didn't help find her. It didn't help her family, and if anything, her children will now, every time for the rest of their lives when they Google, or they see something about their mum, it will be attached to a stigma about alcoholism and stigma about having the menopause.

"There's been so much work done this year about menopause and about women's rights... and really making it much less stigmatised - and this just basically dials it back."

Ms Mehtab added: "I didn't understand how it was going to help find her body or find her alive.

"If that comes out, and you're already feeling isolated, and had she left on her own accord, does it make you all of a sudden want to come back and make that entry easier?

"I think that it's victim blaming and every time stuff happens with women - we haven't heard about a man down the pub with erectile dysfunction that has pints every day. We don't see those headlines because it's always our fault.

"It's our fault when things go wrong, and it always puts the lens back on women."

She said while she has sympathy for the officer in charge of the case, the force does need to take responsibility over the publishing of private information.

Former chief prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, told Sky News: "The only reason you should release information is to protect the public or to help you identify and find the person that's missing. That information didn't do either.

"I think whoever did that needs to justify it publicly, and if they can't, there should be consequences - it did nothing to help us find a body."