Nicola Bulley: Police recover body from river near where mum-of-two went missing

The find follows an intensive search operation following Ms Bulley’s disappearance while walking her dog in Lancashire

Nicola Bulley© PA

Police searching for missing mother of two Nicola Bulley have recovered a body from the river near to where she went missing.

The find follows an intensive search operation following Ms Bulley’s disappearance while walking her dog in Lancashire.

"We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road," a police statement said.

Ms Bulley (45) vanished after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.

Police have maintained that their main hypothesis is that the missing mother fell into the river but they have not recovered any evidence to back this theory up.

Speaking earlier today, Ms Bulley’s father said that her family has been devastated by her disappearance.

“Every day is a struggle.

“[We’re] no further on from three weeks ago.[We] just need a breakthrough to give us some hope.”

Nicola Bulley has been missing for three weeks (Peter Byrne/PA)© Peter Byrne

Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am walking her springer spaniel Willow next to the River Wyre.

Her phone, still connected to a work Teams call, was found just over 20 minutes later on a bench overlooking the riverbank, with her dog running loose.

Her sister Louise Cunningham has also paid tribute to the missing mortgage advisor.

Ms Cunningham shared a photo of herself with Ms Bulley and their mother Dot (72).

In the caption she wrote: “Three weeks without you home.

“We all miss you so much. Time to come home now.”

It comes after Lancashire police released a statement revealing Ms Bulley had “some significant issues with alcohol” and “ongoing struggles with the menopause”.

Officers have been widely criticised for releasing such personal information and Home Secretary Suella Braverman has reportedly demanded and explanation.

A source close to the UK's Home Secretary said she had received an explanation from police last night.

The Home Office also said it was receiving regular updates from the force about its handling of the case — including “why personal details about Nicola were briefed out”.

Information commissioner John Edwards told the World at One that information surrounding health was classed as “special category data” and was “treated to an even higher standard”.

Asked if it was against the law for police to disclose this information without sufficient justification Mr Edwards said: “Yes, that’s right.”

Nicola Bulley© PA

Mr Edwards said data protection laws existed “to ensure personal information is used properly and fairly”.

“Police can disclose information to protect the public and investigate crime, but they would need to be able to demonstrate such disclosure was necessary,” he said.

“We recognise that at this stage of an intensive, live investigation, the force must focus all their energies on the inquiry.

“But given the high profile nature of this case, we will be asking Lancashire Police to set out how they reached the decision to disclose this information in due course.”

Lancashire Police has referred itself to the police watchdog over contact they had with her prior to her disappearance.

Ms Bulley’s relatives said people needed to stop “making wild theories up” about her private life and issued a direct plea for her to return, adding: “Your girls want a cuddle.”

More to follow...

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