Sky News and ITV have been told by UK media regulator Ofcom that they must “explain their actions” after the family of a dead mother said the broadcasters intruded on their privacy as they grieved.

News of Nicola Bulley’s disappearance has gripped the nation this month after the 45-year-old mortgage adviser vanished on January 27 while walking along a river.

A body was recovered from the River Wyre on Sunday and, a day later, Lancashire Police confirmed that it had been identified as Bulley.

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Her family issued a statement alongside the police confirmation, in which they directly criticized Sky News and ITV for contacting them in the period between the body being discovered and formal identification.

“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,” the family said.

“They again, have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profiles. 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.”

Ofcom said it had written to Sky News and ITV to request information. “We are extremely concerned to hear the comments made by the family of Nicola Bulley,” a spokesperson said.

“We have written to ITV and Sky to ask them to explain their actions. We will then assess whether any further action is required.”

Sky News declined to comment but is understood to be working with Ofcom to answer questions. ITV is yet to respond to a request for comment.

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