Nicola Bulley police ‘took two weeks’ to question local fishermen

Apparent delay in approaching potentially key witnesses comes amid family’s growing concerns around investigation

Namita Singh
Wednesday 15 February 2023 06:29 GMT
Related video: Nicola Bulley ‘could have been kidnapped’, says forensic search expert

Police investigating missing dog-walker Nicola Bulley’s disappearance reportedly took more than two weeks to question local fishermen for their eyewitness accounts.

Ms Bulley disappeared while walking her springer spaniel Willow along the river in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, after she dropped her two daughters – aged six and nine – at school on 27 January.

One witness has described seeing two men with fishing rods acting suspiciously in the area the morning before Ms Bulley went missing, saying they didn’t appear to be carrying any bait or tackle and tried to cover their faces as they walked past.

Yet investigators only approached the local fishing club in St Michael’s Wyre this Tuesday, asking questions about those having permits to be on the River Wyre on the day Ms Bulley went missing, one fisherman has told The Times.

At a press conference on 3 February, police first told the public of its "main working hypothesis" that the mortgage adviser fell in the river during a 10-minute window between 9.10am and 9.20am that day.

The force said her disappearance was not being treated as suspicious.


But a body has still not been found, and detectives extended the search out towards the sea at Morecombe Bay on 3 February, saying finding her there "becomes more of a possibility".

Police approached local fishermen to enquire if anyone had seen anything, a person told The Times on condition of anonymity, adding that no one did. The fisherman said that while the authorities contacted them a day after Ms Bulley’s disappearance, they only enquired about the depth of the water at that time.

“The only people that were on the river that day were dog walkers. I can guarantee you that,” a fisherman was quoted as saying by Wales Online.

“It sounds like they are trying to work out if anyone was fishing on the river that day and saw something, but nobody was.”

Yesterday Ms Bulley’s sister,  Louise Cunningham, visited the bench where her phone and dog were recovered, and tied a yellow ribbon to the bridge at St Michael’s, as she expressed her frustration about the police probe.

“We need to know what’s happened to her. We just want her home. It just doesn’t make any sense still. Going around and around is torture,” she told Sky News.

Faulding, left, with Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell on a visit to the riverside (PA)

Her partner Paul Ansell also expressed dissatisfaction with the progress made in her search, claimed a forensic expert aiding the investigation.

"He’s got a relationship with the police family liaison officers, but I think he’s struggling to get answers that he wants,” forensic expert Peter Faulding was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

"He’s got a line of communication with them, but I think there’s a problem. He vented his frustrations to the family liaison officers last week in front of me when I was there. There’s a feeling that there’s just a lack of imagination and willpower.

“Paul is just lost, really. He’s got no partner, the kids are missing their mum, and he’s absolutely in pieces.”

He also said Mr Ansell was “concerned that the search of the surrounding area needs to be done more thoroughly”.

“Any missing person inquiry, because you’ve got no concrete evidence, there needs to be a search and that includes surrounding areas that has to be on the first day of the case,” Mr Faulding was quoted as saying by TheTimes. “I’m not saying it hasn’t been done, but it needs to be extremely thoroughly searched.

“He’s [Ansell] just frustrated. He just wants answers. Obviously, he’s ripping himself to pieces at the moment. He just wants some form of closure I think, one way or the other, and he’s gearing himself up for any outcome.”

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