Police address online speculation around missing mum Nicola Bulley

Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith criticised online speculation of the case

Police say they are being "inundated with false information, accusations and rumours" about Nicola Bulley’s disappearance.

The mum-of-two was last seen walking her dog Willow in St Michael's on Wyre in Lancashire on Friday 27 January.

The mystery around the case has prompted numerous conspiracy theories as to what happened to her on social media platforms including TikTok and Reddit.

But Lancashire Police say speculation about her fate by "so-called experts" is "damaging" to the investigation.

Speaking at a press conference, on Wednesday 15 February, Senior Investigating Officer Rebecca Smith addressed what she called "persistent myths" about the case.

She said: "In 29 years' police service I’ve never seen anything like it. Some of it’s been quite shocking and really hurtful to the family.

"Obviously, we can’t disregard anything and we’ve reviewed everything that’s come in but of course it has distracted us significantly."

Lancashire police speaking at a press conference on Wednesday 15 Feburary. Credit: PA Images
  • Nicola Bulley was abducted by a third-party

"There is not a single piece evidence to suggest a third party involvement in Nicola's disappearance," Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith said.

"We have viewed a substantial amount of CCTV. It has really been able to help us pin down Nicola's movements and key witnesses.

"We can say Nicola has not entered or left the area near Rowanwater.

"We have numerous CCTV sighting's of Allotment Lane and that is why we can be confident Nicola has not gone down that road."

Police have also been using dashcam footage to rule out if she went down the main road - saying nothing indicates that so far.

A "vast amount of information" has been reviewed, which police say none of which indicate a third party involvement.

This is why the working hypothesis is that she went into the river.

  • What about the derelict house across the river?

"The derelict house which is across the other side of the river has been searched three times, with the permission of the owner, and Nicola is not in there," Ms Smith said.

  • What about the 'tatty red van'?

There were hundreds of cars seen in St Michael's on 27 January. Police are trying to track down the vehicle but do not believe it to be suspicious.

"The red van… we’re really grateful to members of the public for ringing in to the inquiry, we wouldn’t have got this far without everyone’s help," Ms Smith said.

"But it’s also really obvious that we are being inundated with false information, accusations and rumours, which is distracting us from our work."

The last known movements of Nicola Bulley. Credit: PA Images
  • Are the fishermen spotted in the area involved?

Ms Smith said: "I do not find it suspicious that fishermen would be in the area of a river carrying a fishing rod.

"We have checked CCTV and cannot trace them to that day. We are keen to contact them but there is nothing to suggest they are suspicious."

  • What about the stained glove?

A glove has been recovered, but is not believed to be relevant to the investigation. It is not Nicola's, and is now in police possession.

"In terms of the glove that has been recovered, you’ll no doubt be aware that TikTokers have been playing their own private detectives and have been in the area," she said.

"A glove has been recovered that is not believed to be relevant to the investigation. It is not Nicola’s but we have got that in our possession."

  • The CCTV at the caravan site was not working - isn't that suspicious?

Police say they have been assisted "beyond all belief" by caravan owners and this is not the case.

Ribbons being left with messages to Nicola over the River Wyre. Credit: PA Images
  • Why did Nicola not have the phone in her pocket, and was she on the call?

Ms Smith said Nicola would often hold the phone out in front of her and key witnesses had corroborated this information.

They say they have digital media experts analysing her phone and have been able to trace her movements in the field, backed up by witness accounts.

"We have had a thorough, dedicated, meticulous investigation and there is not one single piece of information that’s come to note that would suggest that Nicola has left those fields," she told the press conference.

  • Why have the police not looked at the Fitbit?

Police say there is no further information to gain from the Fitbit because it had not been synced in a number of days.

  • Why has Nicola been seen 'online' on social media?

Police say they are logged into her social media accounts and that is why she is appearing as online.

Ms Smith said: "There is further work we are doing on Nicola's social media accounts. The family are aware of this.

"This might show as Nicola as being online. We have control of this phone and nobody needs to be concerned about this."

  • Why was Willow's harness taken off in the field?

Ms Smith said it was "completely normal" for Nicola to do this. It would only be put back on when they were ready to leave the field.

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