Underwater search expert Peter Faulding 'caused challenges' to Nicola Bulley investigation, say police

21 November 2023, 10:00 | Updated: 21 November 2023, 11:32

A report has found Mr Faulding caused 'challenges' during the investigation into Ms Bulley's disappearance.
A report has found Mr Faulding caused 'challenges' during the investigation into Ms Bulley's disappearance. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The diving expert who assisted search operations in the case of missing Nicola Bulley ‘caused challenges to the investigation’, a police report has found.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The body of Ms Bulley, 45, a mother-of-two, was found in the River Wyre on February 19, about a mile from where she vanished, while walking her dog in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, on January 27.

A review into the police handling of Nicola Bulley’s disappearance examined underwater search expert Peter Faulding's role as part of its report.

The review was commissioned to examine the effectiveness of the police response during the case earlier this year, which saw unprecedented levels of mainstream and social media interest.

Mr Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), assisted search operations into the missing mother-of-two.

At the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance, Mr Faulding suggested to the media that the police’s equipment was too ‘low-tech’ to detect a body.

After his comments, Ms Bulley’s family asked police for SGI to assist the case.

While police investigators were told they were able to secure the same equipment used by SGI, the force went ahead with the family’s request to prevent ‘negative press'.

The force wanted to avoid a negative perception that police were not using every opportunity to locate Ms Bulley, the report said.

Read more: Paralympian Oscar Pistorius could be freed from prison after blunder in refusing murderer’s previous bids for parole

Read more: Police launch urgent hunt for group of teen boys missing after North Wales camping trip as family ‘frantic with worry’

A report has found that Peter Faulding caused 'challenges' to the investigation.
A report has found that Peter Faulding caused 'challenges' to the investigation. Picture: Alamy

Mr Faulding met with a chief inspector who provided “suitable, robust advice about the information he is passing to the media - unhelpful to the investigation, the family and wider community”.

The report also added that police appeared to have presented Mr Faulding with an NDA instructing SGI not to discuss the search with anyone outside the investigation - but SGI claimed that such an NDA had never been discussed or signed.

Mr Faulding alleged that he did not receive any instructions from police not to engage with the press and that his team had felt “ambushed” by the press, so he felt media involvement was "within the terms of engagement".

SGI carried out a sweep of the River Wyre a three-mile stretch of the river between St Michael’s and Cartford Bridge over two and a half days, using sonar equipment Mr Faulding described as “state of the art”.

Nicola Bulley's death was ruled as accidental.
Nicola Bulley's death was ruled as accidental. Picture: Handout

The review, published on Tuesday, also found that Mr Faulding caused unwarranted distress to Ms Bulley’s family after he told them he believed he had identified the site of her deceased body.

"It is the view of Lancashire Constabulary that Mr Faulding had a significant impact on the investigation and public confidence through his activities and his engagement with the media,” the report said.

"The review team considers that some of his actions created a more challenging environment for the investigation team.

"His public statements often contradicted the investigative and operational approach, leading to confusion for the public and reducing the family's trust in the investigation and search operation."

In a statement, Mr Faulding said in response: “I take confidentiality very seriously and would never breach an NDA or disclose any confidential or protectively marked material. The only instructions I was given was to use discretion and keep operational information confidential.

“I was never given any operational information and never disclosed any (ie: location of a significant target). If at any time I was asked to stop updating the media, I would have immediately, but no request was ever made.”

An inquest into Ms Bulley’s death earlier this year ruled that the mother-of-two’s death was accidental.

The case received unprecedented levels of public interest and saw Lancashire police face backlash for publicising the details of Ms Bulley’s medical history.

Ms Bulley's family have said they continue to grieve her loss and do not want to comment on the report.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Four men found dead in car following horror collision with tree

Four men found dead in car following horror collision with tree

The M25 motorway closures are to set to cause travel chaos

Motorway misery: M25, M4 and M1 closures set to disrupt drivers this week – find out if you’re affected

Giovanni Pernice is expecting to be cleared following a misconduct probe, it is understood.

Ex-Strictly pro Giovanni Pernice 'expects to be cleared' amid misconduct allegations

The Prince Albert memorial has been 'considered offensive'

Prince Albert Memorial branded 'offensive' as it reflects 'Victorian view of the world'

Lord Falconer has said 'the time has come' for assisted dying reform

'The time has come': Lord Falconer calls for 'significant' assisted dying reform ahead of his new bill being introduced

An independent review recommended teachers and nurses get 5.5% pay rises

'There's also a cost to no deal': Treasury minister hints at above-inflation pay rise for public sector workers

Yvette Cooper vows to crackdown on illegal immigration

Beauty salons and car washes to be targeted in illegal immigration blitz as Home Secretary redeploys Rwanda scheme staff

Sarah Justine Packwood, 54, and her husband, Brett Clibbery, 70.

Mystery as Brit woman and husband attempting to cross Atlantic found dead in lifeboat one month after going missing

Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Five days of big names: LBC announces guest host week

Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves vows 'big bang' for pensions as government launches review in bid to boost investment and savings

Amanda Abbington has claimed Giovanni Pernice was 'cruel and abusive'.

Strictly's Amanda Abbington breaks silence over 'cruel' Giovanni Pernice - as first female pro under fire

Donald Trump spoke at a rally for the first time since he was shot in the ear

Donald Trump says he ‘took a bullet for democracy’ at first rally since assassination attempt

A burnt out car in the Leeds suburb of Harehills, after vehicles were set on fire and a police car was overturned as residents were warned to stay home following an outbreak of disorder on Thursday evening. Picture date: Friday July 19, 2024.

Man charged with arson after bus set on fire in Leeds riots over children allegedly removed from local family

Craig Revel Horwood has said the recent allegations have come as a 'shock' to him

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood breaks silence after 'shock' of dancing show's abuse allegations

A series of Israeli strikes have been launched against the Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah in Yemen

Israel launches series of air strikes on Houthi-controlled city in Yemen day after group claim deadly attack on Tel Aviv

Jay Slater and his mum, Debbie Duncan

Jay Slater's GoFundMe page hits £70k after teen's mum appeals for funeral donations