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'Nicola's family told me she had no underlying issues', says diving expert Peter Faulding after 'high risk' police claim
15 February 2023, 17:38 | Updated: 15 February 2023, 18:00
Diving specialist Peter Faulding has told LBC Nicola Bulley's family confirmed to him that she had no underlying issues, despite today's admission by police that she was treated as a "high-risk" missing person with "specific vulnerabilities".
In a press conference today, Lancashire Police said Ms Bulley had underlying "vulnerabilities", but said they could not provide any further information about what they were.
But Mr Faulding, who joined the police search for Ms Bulley after she went missing, has cast doubt on the police's assertion, saying that her partner Paul "confirmed to me that there were no underlying issues from Nicola".
"I've spoken to the family in depth and the family confirmed to me that there were no underlying issues with Nicola. This is from her sister, this is from Emma, this is from Paul [Nicola's Partner]," Mr Faulding told LBC's Tom Swarbrick.
"They were talking about a spa day the night before messaging each other. There was not any inkling that there was anything wrong at that stage."
Private investigator on Nicola Bulley case, says family 'confirmed she had no underlying issues'
Mr Faulding also confirmed that it would have been standard for him to have been briefed on specific issues Ms Bulley may have had when she went missing.
Speaking at a press conference at Lancashire Police headquarters on Wednesday officers said Nicola Bulley was listed as a "high-risk missing person" due to a "number of specific vulnerabilities."
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith of Lancashire Police said the move was "normal for a missing person with the information we were in possession of".
It is still the "main working hypothesis" that Nicola Bulley fell into the River Wyre before going missing, she said, adding that detectives are keeping an open mind on the mother-of-two's disappearance.
Hitting out at "TikTok amateur detectives" the officer leading the investigation said efforts of social media commentators have "significantly distracted the investigation."
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith refused to give more details of the mother-of-two's "individual vulnerabilities".
Referring to Ms Bulley's partner Paul Ansell, she told a press conference: "It's normal in any missing person investigation that you obviously gather as much information at an early stage about the person in question, which is no different and we did that with Paul.
"I'm not going to go into the details of those individual vulnerabilities. I've asked you to respect the family, who are going through unimaginable pain and distress at this moment.
"But those vulnerabilities based our decision-making in terms of grading Nicola as high risk and have continued to form part of my investigation throughout."
Asked if she hoped to find her alive, Det Supt Smith said: "I hope with all my heart that we find Nicola Bulley alive more than anything."
Ms Bulley's partner Paul has previously said that he '100 per cent' does not think his partner fell into the river, while Mr Faulding has suggested the same.