Home Secretary demands answers over personal details released about Nicola Bulley

1702 Nicola Bulley poster
Bridge over the River Wyre close to where Nicola was last seen Credit: ITV news

The Home Secretary has demanded an "explanation" from Lancashire Police as to why aspects of missing Nicola Bulley's private life were disclosed at a press conference, a source close to Suella Braverman said.

Ms Braverman was reportedly "concerned" after the force told reporters Ms Bulley suffered "some significant issues with alcohol" in the past, which had resurfaced over recent months.

According to a source close to the Home Secretary, she received an explanation from police on Thursday 16 February.

The Home Office also said it was receiving regular updates from the force about its handling of the case - including "why personal details about Nicola was briefed out at this stage of the investigation".

Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen on the morning of January 27 Credit: Family handout/PA

Lancashire Police have referred themselves to the police watchdog over contact they had with the missing mother of two prior to her disappearance.

The Information Commissioner will be asking Lancashire Police about the decision to disclose missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and HRT, he said in a statement.

Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “Data protection law exists to ensure people’s personal information is used properly and fairly.

"This includes ensuring personal details are not disclosed inappropriately. Police can disclose information to protect the public and investigate crime, but they would need to be able to demonstrate such disclosure was necessary.

“We recognise that at this stage of an intensive, live investigation, the force must focus all their energies on the inquiry.

"But given the high-profile nature of this case, we will be asking Lancashire Police to set out how they reached the decision to disclose this information in due course.”

After police revealed her issues with alcohol "brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause", they were strongly condemned by MPs and campaign groups.

Yellow ribbons have been tied to the bridge across the River Wyre with messages of support Credit: ITV News

The Conservative police and crime commissioner for Lancashire, Andrew Snowden, said the force were being "as transparent as they can be" following the press conference.

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.

'Nikki, I Love you. Come home now please" the message left by her partner Paul Ansell Credit: ITV News

In a statement issued on Thursday, Ms Bulley's family said people needed to stop "making wild theories up" about her private life.

The statement, issued through the force, said: "Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop.

"The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life."

The statement went on:"Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly, we all need you back in our lives.

Concluding their statement, Ms Bulley's family issued a direct plea for her to return and said: "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."

Ms Bulley's parents, Ernest, 73, and Dot Bulley, 72, left a yellow ribbon tied to the bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, where their daughter vanished on January 27, with a message that read: "We pray every day for you. Love you, Mum + Dad XXX."

A second ribbon, believed to be from Ms Bulley's sister, Louise Cunningham, read: "Nikki please come home. I love you. Lou xxx".