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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jon Macpherson & Ethan Davies

Probe into tragic death of mum Nicola Bulley begins today

An inquest into how mum-of-two Nicola Bulley came to her death will begin later today.

The 45-year-old vanished after dropping off her daughters at school, then taking her usual dog walk along the River Wyre - in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire - on January 27. Her mobile phone, which was still connected to a work group call, was found on a bench near to her last sighting.

Nicola, a mortgage adviser living in Inskip, was immediately deemed a “high risk” missing person. That led to a huge police search operation, with hundreds of local search volunteers and intense media and public interest, reports Lancs Live. Tragically, her body was found on February 19.

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Private underwater search specialists were also called in by her family amid a conspiratorial social media frenzy fuelling waves of sightseers and content creators visiting the scene. Both police and media faced criticism after her body was found in the river around a mile farther downstream from the bench.

Police had urged people not to speculate about the disappearance and maintained from early on there were no suspicious circumstances and that Ms Bulley may have gone into the water due to an “issue” with her springer spaniel dog, Willow.

Ms Bulley’s family and friends said they did not believe the police “theory” and urged people to continue searching. Paul Ansell, her partner of 12 years, gave TV interviews appealing for help – saying their daughters wanted their mummy home.

As the days passed and speculation continued online, Lancashire Police revealed Ms Bulley had struggled with alcohol and perimenopause. This prompted widespread criticism for disclosing her personal information, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak questioned about the police approach and the force facing investigation.

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An independent review of Lancashire Police’s handling of the case is currently under way by the College of Policing, ordered by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden. Part of the review will include inquiries made by the Information Commissioner’s Office over the force’s disclosure of Ms Bulley’s personal information.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct also looked at a welfare check on Nicola Bulley carried out by police 17 days before she went missing. Media watchdog Ofcom is also in contact with both ITV and Sky after criticism by Ms Bulley’s family.

The inquest, expected to last two days, will begin today (June 26) at the County Hall, Preston, before Dr James Adeley, Senior Coroner for Lancashire.

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