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'Time will tell' if Lancashire Police was right to release Nicola Bulley's problems, Britain's top cop says
17 February 2023, 08:47 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 10:56
"Time will tell" if Lancashire Police were right to release details about Nicola Bulley's struggles with alcohol and menopause, Britain's top cop has told LBC.
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Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley also said his force is ready to help under-fire detectives in the North West if they need it.
Lancashire Police revealed Ms Bulley had been dealing with issues before she vanished, leading to criticism as to whether the public needed to know such intimate details.
The force said it was necessary because of how much misinformation had been put out there.
Sir Mark told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "Any time you're releasing personal information you need to be very, very cautious.
"Is it absolutely necessary for a policing purpose to help achieve the aim of finding a missing woman?
"They've made that call, they've referred themselves to the IOPC, time will tell whether that was the right call in that circumstance.
"I don’t know what information they have in front of them investigating the case. So, we're all judging that from outside.
"Let's focus on finding her and let’s see if the IOPC find that Lancashire got it right or got it wrong."
Nick Ferrari puts Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on the spot
He added: "It would be a rare thing to do. But there may be a case where it is necessary to do, and that’s why I don’t want to be absolute, but it would be a rare thing to do."
The Met is "of course" ready to help if needed, he added.
Lancashire Police came under fire for revealing she had been struggling with menopause and alcohol, but said it had to give out the details because of the amount of misinformation that has been put out.
The force said: "Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months.
"This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.
"As a result of those issues, a response car staffed by both police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home address on January 10th.
"No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated."
It was sharply criticised - with the Home Office intervening to demand answers over why such personal details had to be put out.
But the family appeared to back the force in a statement, in which Ms Bulley's loved ones pleaded for an end to "appalling" speculation about her private life in a case that has attracted amateur sleuths and online conspiracy theorists.
"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 statement on Thursday said.
"The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.
"Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT [hormone replacement therapy] to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis.
"The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life."