Diving expert's Nicola Bulley search would've changed if told of alcohol issues

A private diving expert helping in the search for Nicola Bulley has blasted the police for not telling him that she was ‘high-risk’ and had been struggling with alcohol issues.

Peter Faulding says it’s ‘absolutely outrageous’ the information was not shared with his team, as it would have changed their strategy.

With the new facts in mind, he claims the missing mum-of-two is more likely to have been swept out to sea or to have walked off somewhere.

But he has agreed with critics, arguing it’s ‘not fair’ Lancashire Police released personal information about Ms Bulley to the public.

The decision to unveil the details last night has been named ‘deeply troubling’ by MPs and campaigners, who say it will likely fuel victim-blaming.

Detectives said on Wednesday Ms Bulley had faced ‘significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause’ prior to her disappearance.

Police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at the 45-year-old’s home address weeks before she vanished. No one was arrested.

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Mr Faulding says he ‘would normally be given that information to make my job easier and deploy the appropriate resources to do that search’.

Following his initial search, he insisted there is ‘no sign’ that the mortgage advisor is in the stretch of river police believe she is. 

But he has now noted that a high-risk missing person could be suicidal, while Ms Bulley may have been ‘disoriented’ at the time of her disappearance.

He would have ‘extended his search even further upstream’ if he’d known the circumstances.

Other evidence, such as whisky bottles, would have been searched for, he told The Mirror.

Alternatively, Ms Bulley may have just ‘walked off somewhere’, the specialist and founder of Specialist Group International has said. 

He said it is possible for someone to just walk away from their life before re-appearing sometime later.

But Mr Faulding has also questioned what other information officers are hiding, asking: ‘Do they [police] know something else again that they are not telling us?’

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Ms Bulley vanished after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.

She was last seen at 9.10am taking her usual route with her springer spaniel Willow, alongside the River Wyre.

Her phone, still connected to a work call for her job as a mortgage adviser, was found just over 20 minutes later on a bench overlooking the riverbank, with her dog running loose.

Lancashire Police have noted it is ‘an unusual step for us to take to go into this level of detail about someone’s private life’.

‘But we felt it was important to clarify what we meant when we talked about vulnerabilities to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation’, they added.

‘We have explained to Nicola’s family why we have released this further information and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.’

There is no evidence to indicate a criminal aspect or third-party involvement, they reiterated.

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