Diving expert Peter Faulding whose firm failed to find Nicola Bulley says their ‘expertise is not in question’ after they were removed from National Crime Agency list

  • SGI is no longer listed as an expert search group and is under internal review
  • Mr Faulding said the firm is proud of its specialist search and rescue operations
  • Read more: Hundreds gather at candlelit vigil for Nicola Bulley after body found 

The specialist diver who claimed he’d find Nicola Bulley if she was in the River Wyre has responded saying his firm’s ‘expertise are not in question’ following its recent removal from the National Crime Agency’s experts list. 

Peter Faulding’s Specialist Group International (SGI) has assisted in several high profile investigations and joined the search for the missing mother for three days before he sensationally guaranteed she was ‘not in that section of the river’.

SGI was this week dropped from an official list of experts recommended to assist in investigations on the Expert Advisers Database. 

In a statement to MailOnline today he said SGI’s operational ability and expertise are not in question.

‘We have had correspondence with the National Crime Agency but are not at liberty to comment on matters pertaining to the Expert Advisor’s Database at this time or the reported review of SGI’s inclusion on the database. We will be seeking further clarification on the issue.

Peter Faulding’s Specialist Group International (SGI) joined the search for the missing mother for three days before he sensationally guaranteed she was ‘not in that section of the river’ 

Nicola Bulley (pictured with partner Paul Ansell) was tragically found last Sunday 19 February in the reeds by the river

‘SGI’s operational ability and expertise is not in question. We are proud of our record in specialist search and rescue operations, conducted over many decades, during which we have worked with police departments and other agencies to the high standards expected of nationally recognised specialists.

READ MORE: ‘Rest in peace Nikki’: Hundreds gather at candlelit vigil for mother-of-two 

‘On the Nicola Bulley search we were tasked with assisting Lancashire Police with the river search element of the operation, and we conducted this to the highest standards. Our intention at all times was to provide help and assistance to the police, and to Nicola’s family.

‘Our thoughts at this time are with Nicola Bulley’s family and we would ask all parties to respect their wishes for privacy.’

An internal review is expected to be carried out and could result in the group being reinstated, according to The Times.

A spokesman for the National Crime Agency told the publication: ‘The NCA does not employ, endorse or accredit experts on our adviser database. 

‘The database is subject to continual review and its purpose is to maintain a list of expertise UK law enforcement can draw upon when required.

‘We proactively seek feedback from customers regarding experts’ performance and contribution. The monitoring of performance equally applies to individuals and organisations who become involved in investigations without NCA engagement.’

Mr Faulding, 60, scoured the River Wyre for three days after she vanished on January 27. 

After her body was tragically located in nearby reeds, he said his high-tech £55,000 sonar can only scan in the water and cannot travel through reeds.

Mr Faulding, 60, scoured the River Wyre for three days after she vanished on January 27 (pictured on February 7)

Nicola Bulley’s body was discovered in reeds on the River Wyre 

At the time, he said: ‘The SGI underwater search team was tasked with searching the river upstream of the weir in the non-tidal part of the river, past the bench where Nicola’s phone was found and a mile upstream past this point. 

‘For three days, using high-frequency side scan sonar, we thoroughly searched the riverbed and can categorically confirm that Nicola was not laying on the riverbed on the days that we searched. 

‘We did search the stretch of river where Nicola was [allegedly] found for four hours on our first day and then upstream past the weir on the subsequent two days. 

‘The police underwater search teams and land search teams were searching for three full weeks and were also unable to find Nicola. 

‘Sadly, the discovery was not found in the river but in the reeds at the side of the river which was not part of our remit as the side scan sonar does not penetrate reeds above or below the water. 

‘A riverbank and wade search would be the only way to search this area and we were not involved or tasked with that search. The difference between these two search areas has caused a lot of confusion and unfair criticism towards myself and my team at Specialist Group International.

‘My previous comments saying that if Nicola was in the river, I would find her, still stand. My team and I at SGI did all we could to assist this family with only our best intentions. I am sure I can say this of everyone who has been involved in this difficult search.’

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