As the search for missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley reaches its third week, her family have released a statement calling for “appalling” speculations about her personal life to end.
Their plea came after Lancashire Police were criticised for disclosing that the mother-of-two suffered “some significant issues with alcohol” in the past, which had resurfaced over recent months.
On Wednesday, the force described Ms Bulley as “vulnerable” and classed her as a “high-risk” after her partner, Paul Ansell, reported her disappearance.
In a statement issued by her family on Thursday, they said that they believed that the public’s focus on finding the mum had been deterred by “speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life” and they were aware of people “threatening to sell stories” about her.
In a statement released through Lancashire Police, her family said: “It has now been three weeks since Nikki went missing. We, as a family, believe that the public focus has become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life.
“As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire Police, last night, released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki. 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 police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.”
They went on to explain: “Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT 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.
“Despite what some media outlets and individuals are suggesting, we are being updated daily and receive support from our family liaison officers.
“Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives.
“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. You can reach out to us, or you can contact MissingPeople.org.uk. Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much.”
The statement comes as the search for Ms Bulley reaches the three-week mark and extensive searches continue to be carried out.
Nearly 40 detectives have sifted through hundreds of hours of CCTV, dashcam footage and tip-offs from the public. Underwater searches in the River Wyre have also been carried out.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country