The family of Nicola Bulley has hit out at the “absolutely appalling” media coverage of the mother-of-two’s disappearance after police confirmed her body had been found in the River Wyre.
In a statement, the family branded some reporting during the three-week search for the 45-year-old as “shameful”.
The police hunt for Nicola generated a huge level of public interest, and even led to officers to criticise “TikTokers … playing their own private detectives” as the story was picked over on social media.
In a statement read out by a Lancashire Police officer, the family questioned the role of the press during the investigation and accused the media of “misquoting and vilifying” Nicola’s partner, relatives and friends.
It read: “It saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to (Nicola’s children) that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.
“This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable this cannot happen to another family.
“We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy. They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.
“Do the press and other media channels and so called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives.”
The body was found on Sunday morning in the river, around a mile from where the 45-year-old mortgage adviser was last seen.
She had been walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27.
Speaking at a press briefing at police headquarters on Monday, assistant chief constable Peter Lawson confirmed the body had been identified as Nicola.
In the statement, Nicola’s family said she was “the centre of our world” adding they would “never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us”.
The family said: “We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.
“Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.”