Home secretary wants answers over Bulley health disclosureson February 17, 2023 at 9:09 am

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A source says the home secretary wants to know why police released Nicola Bulley’s health details.

Nicola BulleyImage source, Lancashire Police

The home secretary has raised concerns with police after they revealed personal information about missing mother Nicola Bulley.

The 45-year-old disappeared on 27 January during a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire.

Lancashire Police were criticised for making her struggles with alcohol and the menopause public.

A source close to Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she had “asked the force for an explanation”.

They said she had received a response on Thursday evening but was not wholly satisfied with the force’s justification for releasing the personal details.

However, an aide stressed the decision was a matter for Lancashire Police.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Image source, PA Media

In a statement released on Wednesday, Lancashire Police said Ms Bulley had suffered with “some significant issues with alcohol” and “ongoing struggles with the menopause”.

This prompted a backlash from campaigners, MPs and legal experts, with some accusing the police of breaching her privacy.

Zoë Billingham, the chairwoman of an NHS mental health trust and former lead inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, said the police’s comments had stopped her in her tracks.

“Why on earth was this information even vaguely relevant to an investigation that’s 20 days on?” she said.

“If there are issues relating to Nicola that needed to be put in the public domain, why wasn’t this done earlier?

“And why was such personal information, such potentially sensitive information, disclosed?”

Ms Bulley’s family have since commented, saying she would not have wanted the information released, but police had kept them informed.

A yellow ribbon with a message of hope written on it tied to a bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire,

Image source, PA Media

In a statement released via the police, they elaborated on her health, saying she had suffered significant side effects due to the perimenopause, including “brain fog” and “restless sleep”.

They said she had been taking hormone replacement therapy, but it had given her “intense headaches”, so she stopped the treatment “thinking that may have helped her, but only ended up causing this crisis”.

Her family also asked for speculation surrounding her private life to end and urged the public to focus on finding her.

They added: “Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister , partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives.

“Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home.

“Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.”

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

Lancashire Police said it had referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over contact it had had with Ms Bulley before she vanished.

It said it had been called to a report of “concern for welfare” on 10 January when officers and health professionals visited her home. No arrests were made.

The force said the referral only relates to the force’s interaction with the family on that date and not the wider missing person investigation.

The IOPC said it was assessing the available information to determine whether an investigation was required.

Ms Bulley disappeared while walking her springer spaniel, Willow, after dropping off her two daughters at school.

Her phone was found still connected to a work conference call.

Police and specialist teams have since mounted a huge search, but no trace of her has been found.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Andrew Snowden, said the investigation was under the direction and control of Chief Constable Chris Rowley and the force was being as transparent as they could be on such an “incredibly sensitive and complex case”.

“The unprecedented media and public interest in this case, whilst welcomed for appeals for information, is challenging for the family and friends of Nicola and the officers and police staff dealing with unsubstantiated rumours and speculation on a daily basis,” he said.

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