Nicola Bulley: Police find a body in River Wyre

Nicola BulleyPolice handout

Police searching for missing Nicola Bulley have found a body in the river.

The mother-of two disappeared during a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire three weeks ago, sparking a major search operation.

Lancashire Police said they “sadly recovered a body” after they were called to the River Wyre near Rawcliffe Road at 11:35 GMT on Sunday.

A statement said formal identification had not yet been carried out “so we are unable to say” if it was Ms Bulley.

The death was currently being treated as “unexplained”, it added.

“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,” Lancashire Police said.

divers at scene

PA Media

Home Secretary Suella Braverman described the developments as “heart-breaking and distressing”. She tweeted: “My thoughts remain with Nicola’s family at this extremely difficult time.” 

Ms Bulley, who worked as a mortgage adviser, was last seen walking her springer spaniel Willow after dropping off her two daughters, aged six and nine, at school on 27 January.

Her dog was found shortly after, along with her phone – still connected to a work conference call – on a bench by a steep riverbank.

Police previously said they believed the 45-year-old had gone into the river and that her disappearance was not suspicious.

Map showing the route Nicola Bulley is thought to have taken after she parked her car and walked along the river path

The body was found about a mile from where she was last seen in the small village of St Michael’s on Wyre.

The search drew huge interest, with large numbers of people visiting and filming around the area.

It led to police issuing dispersal notices and warnings over anti-social behaviour.

Following various theories spread on social media, her family said public focus had “become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours”.

bench with ribbons

Lancashire Police faced a backlash after disclosing Ms Bulley’s struggles with the menopause and alcohol, which they said was “to avoid any further speculation”.

It followed comments they had made that she had been categorised as high-risk due to her “specific vulnerabilities”.

Ms Bulley’s family said they were aware beforehand that police were revealing the details, adding: “Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her.”

The police’s disclosure of her personal details to the public raised widespread concerns, including from the prime minister and home secretary.

Lancashire Police said it would conduct an internal review into its investigation, led by its head of crime Det Ch Supt Pauline Stables.

A candle is lit in front of a photo of Nicola Bulley (left) and her partner Paul Ansell on an altar at St Michael's Church in St Michael's on Wyre

PA Media

A security firm was hired by local residents following concerns about people, including social media influencers, visiting the village – some of whom were said to be peering through windows and trying to open doors.

One influencer was detained and fined after posting that he had been in “people’s back gardens at night-time with torches”.

Peter Bleksley, a former Scotland Yard detective, told the BBC that the number of people going to the scene would have been “catastrophic for the collection of evidence”.

Two people were also arrested after malicious messages were sent to parish councillors in relation to the case.

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