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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Lucy Skoulding

Diving expert who led private search for Nicola Bulley says he hasn’t been asked for evidence at inquest

Family handout/PA

The diving specialist who led a private search for Nicola Bulley in Lancashire has said he has not been asked to give evidence at her inquest.

Peter Faulding, CEO of Specialist Group International (SGI), who had assisted police with previous missing persons investigations, was asked by Ms Bulley’s family to help with the search after she disappeared near her home in St Michael’s on Wyre in January.

His team spent three days scanning a three-mile stretch of the River Wyre using sonar equipment, but did not find any trace of the mother-of-two in the section of the river they searched.

The 45-year-old, who had vanished while walking her dog, was later found in the River Wyre on 19 February, around a mile from where her phone had been found on a bench.

In a statement shared on Twitter today, Mr Faulding revealed he has not been asked to give evidence at the inquest, which is taking place on 26 June.

SGI was removed from the National Crime Agency’s list of specialists following their involvement in Ms Bulley’s case.

Mr Faulding added that neither he nor his organisation has had any contact with the Lancashire Constabulary since they left the area on 9 February.

A statement from SGI said: “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.

“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.

45-year-old mother-of-two Nicola Bulley went missing in January and her body was found over three weeks later
— (PA Media)

“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: Since leaving the scene at St Michael’s on Wyre on 9 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. “

Flowers and ribbons were left close to the site where Nicola Bulley went missing in St Michael’s on Wyre
— (Getty Images)

The statement added: “Importantly, our thoughts remain with Nicolas’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.”

Despite extensive searches of the area, it took more than three weeks for Ms Bulley’s body to be found in the River Wyre after a tip-off from walkers.

Mr Faulding previously said he was “baffled” after he failed to find her, saying he had only cleared the area around the bench where her mobile phone was found, and that the tidal section beyond the weir was “an open book”, according to MailOnline.

Ms Bulley’s body was found on an unremarkable stretch of the river, just past a slight bend, a mile or so outside the village, close to where a tree had fallen on its side half in and half outside the water, with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.

“We weren’t searching the reeds, our job was to search the water,” Mr Faulding said.

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