Nicola Bulley: Police working to identify body found in river as partner tells of ‘agony’
Nicola Bulley’s partner has spoken of his “agony” after police searching for her discovered a body in the River Wyre.
Paul Ansell told Sky News in a message that he had “no words right now, just agony” after Lancashire Police made the announcement on Sunday afternoon.
Ms Bulley vanished after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
In a statement, the force said that a body had been found in the river but it has not yet been formally identified.
A spokesperson for Lancashire police said: “This morning, Sunday, 19 February, you may be aware of police activity around the river near to St Michaels. We want to provide you with an update on that activity.
“We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road.
“An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body.
“No formal identification has yet been carried out, so we are unable to say whether this is Nicola Bulley at this time.
“Procedures to identify the body are on-going. 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. We ask that their privacy is respected.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman described developments in the case of Ms Bulley as “heart-breaking and distressing” after the discovery.
She tweeted: “These are heart-breaking and distressing developments. My thoughts remain with Nicola’s family at this extremely difficult time.”
Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am taking her usual route with her springer spaniel Willow, alongside the River Wyre.
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.
Police investigating her disappearance had extended their search as far as the sea but previously told the public that they believed she had fallen into the River Wyre in a “10-minute window” between 9.10am and 9.20am.
Lancashire Police have been criticised for disclosing information about Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and the menopause in a press conference last week, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman said to be “concerned” by the force’s decision.
In a press conference on Wednesday, they revealed that Ms Bulley was classed as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner reported her disappearance “based on a number of specific vulnerabilities”.
They later added in a statement that the mother-of-two had been struggling with alcohol issues and peri-menopause, and had stopped taking her HRT medication.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday said he was “concerned that private information was put into the public domain”.
And Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper also raised concerns about the case, saying there is a wider problem with how the police deal with misogyny.
Lancashire Police confirmed a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation.
A police spokeswoman said: “A review of the investigation is diarised and will be conducted by our head of crime detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables.”
Her family had called for a stop to “speculation and rumour”, adding: “The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life.”