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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Susan Newton & Chris Slater

Diving expert involved in search for Nicola Bulley speaks out ahead of her inquest

An expert who conducted a private search for Nicola Bulley in the River Wyre while she was missing says he hasn't been asked to give evidence at her inquest. Peter Faulding, CEO of Specialist Group International (SGI), and his team spent three days searching a stretch of the river using sonar equipment where police believed the 45-year-old mum had fallen into the water, close to a bench where her phone and dog where found.

They didn't fine a trace of the mother-of-two in the section of the river. He later faced criticism when the police recovered Nicola's body and SGI was removed from the National Crime Agency’s list of specialists.

An inquest into Ms Bulley's death is due to begin on Monday (June 26) at the County Hall in Preston. Ahead of the hearing, Mr Faulding spoke out to 'clarify the situation after a number of questions from the press and public'.

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He issued a lengthy statement in which he confirmed neither he nor his organisation have had any contact with Lancashire Police or the coroner, Lancs Live report.

Peter Faulding, from Specialist Group International (SGI) (Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

"Our thoughts are with Nicola’s family and close friends, and we hope that the upcoming inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley provides the answers they are seeking and deserve," he said.

"SGI were called to assist in the search for Nicola Bulley by Lancashire Constabulary following a request for SGI by the family. SGI, headed up by Peter Faulding, are proven specialists with decades of relevant experience in underwater search. SGI operates an array of technologically advanced and cutting-edge equipment; our work is always carried out to the highest professional standards with honour and integrity and always in the best interest of the families involved putting their concerns first.

"Over the years, Peter and the team at SGI have located many missing persons and vital evidence bringing closure, relief and dignity to the deceased, their families, and friends whilst providing evidence for official investigations at the same time. To clarify questions from the press and public:

Flowers left for Nicola (Lancs Live/Jude Tolson)

"Since leaving the scene at St Michaels on Wyre on 9th February 2023, SGI or Peter Faulding have had no contact with Lancashire Constabulary.

"Regarding this case, SGI or Peter Faulding have not been requested to provide copies of the relevant side scan sonar search data, search reports, photographs or notes made at the scene and from the time spent with members of the family, friends, and police officers from Lancashire Constabulary.

"Furthermore, SGI or Peter Faulding have had no contact with HM Coroner. SGI or Peter Faulding have not been requested to attend the inquiry or submit any evidence or statements for the inquest into the death of Nicola Bulley. Importantly, our thoughts remain with Nicola's family and friends.

"We do not wish to intrude on their grief at this difficult time. Our hope is that their privacy is respected, and their wishes are put first as they go through the difficult period of the coroner’s inquest. SGI and Peter Faulding will make no further comments. #nicolabulley."

Nicola was last seen on January 27 walking her dog Willow near the river in St Michael's on Wyre. Her disappearance sparked a massive search that saw police, firefighters, mountain rescue, underwater teams, and the local community comb through a massive area from the river to the coastline.

Tragically, her body was found on February 19, just over a mile from where she went missing.

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