TikTok vows to take action against sleuths who disrupted Nicola Bulley search and posted conspiracy theories about the mother on social media
- TikTok said they are ‘taking action’ against violations of its community guidelines
- Locals slammed ‘ghouls’ who descended on village where Nicola went missing
TikTok has vowed to take action against social media sleuths who disrupted the search for Nicola Bulley and posted distressing conspiracy theories about the mother-of-two online.
Yesterday, Lancashire Police confirmed a body found in the River Wyre in Lancashire was that of the 45-year-old mortgage adviser.
Her family released a heartbreaking statement in which they hit out at ‘press and members of the public’ who ‘accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.’
They continued: ‘This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable this cannot happen to another family.’
Since Ms Bulley vanished while working her dog along the St Michael’s on Wyre more than three weeks ago, on January 27, her case has attracted huge attention.
Nicola Bulley was ‘the centre of our world’, the family said in a statement read out by Lancashire Police at a press conference on Monday
The statement from the family said it saddened them that they would one day have to explain to Ms Bulley’s children that their father Paul Ansell (left) had been accused of vicious crimes
Locals have slammed ‘ghouls’ and amateur social media sleuths who have descended on the small Lancashire village where she went missing to investigate the case themselves.
Social media platform TikTok has been awash with videos speculating about her disappearance – including speculation, rumours and conspiracy theories.
TikTok said in a statement: ‘Our thoughts are with Ms Bulley’s family and friends at this difficult time. We have mobilised resources to monitor the evolving conversation about this case.
In a press conference this evening police did not disclose why it had taken 23 days to find Nicola Bulley’s body in the river
The police force came under fire after making Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and perimenopause public (pictured on February 6)
There was an outpouring of loving support from across the country after the mother-of-two went missing in January
Police diver teams were pictured at the River Wyre after two walkers found the mother-of-two’s body
‘We are taking action against violations of our Community Guidelines, including removing content and accounts, and limiting the reach of some content by making it ineligible for recommendation.’
Yesterday, Ms Bulley’s heartbroken family gave an emotional statement after police confirmed the body pulled from the river was that of Ms Bulley’s.
They 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.
Nicola Bulley’s devastated family made a vow to the mother-of-two that her two daughters will ‘get the support they need from the people that love us the most’
‘Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.
‘Our family liaison officers have had to confirm our worst fears today.
‘We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.’
The family added: ‘To those who genuinely helped and supported us, privately, we thank you.
READ MORE: Suella Braverman is ‘not satisfied’ with Lancashire Police’s answers on why they released private details about Nicola Bulley
‘The community support in St Michael’s, friends, neighbours and strangers has been nothing short of comforting and heart-warming. Friends you know who you are. Thank you.
‘Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones. Keep that hope alive.
‘Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.
‘We love you, always have and always will, we’ll take it from here.’
Nicola’s body was discovered by a self-confessed ‘psychic’ at around 11.36am Sunday in the River Wyre in Lancashire.
Last week, Lancashire Police released more details about the day Ms Bulley disappeared, including that she was classed as a ‘high-risk’ missing person from the start of the investigation due to having ‘specific vulnerabilities’.
Police then revealed she had ‘significant issues’ with alcohol brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause.
Investigators said it had taken the ‘unusual step’ to disclose this level of detail as it was ‘important to clarify what we meant when we talked about vulnerabilities to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation’.
Timeline: Disappearance of Nicola Bulley
At 8.26am Ms Bulley left her home with her two daughters, aged six and nine, dropping them off at school.
She then took her spaniel, Willow, for a walk along the path by the River Wyre at 8.43am, heading towards a gate and bench in the lower field.
She was seen by a dog walker who knew her at around 8.50am, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways, according to the force.
At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, followed by a message to her friends six minutes later, before logging on to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am.
She was seen by a second witness at 9.10am, the last known sighting.
Her phone was back in the area of the bench at 9.20am before the Teams call ended ten minutes later, with her mobile remaining logged on after the call.
At 10.50am, Ms Bulley’s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance.
Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation into Ms Bulley’s whereabouts on the same day and appealed for witnesses to contact them.
Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation.
They were assisted by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team and the North West underwater search team.
Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search for Ms Bulley at 10.30am on Sunday, according to reports from The Mirror, and around 100 people joined in.
Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as ‘extremely dangerous’ and saying that activity in these areas presented ‘a genuine risk to the public’.
Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Constabulary said police were ‘keeping a really open mind about what could have happened’, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley’s disappearance as suspicious.
Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a potential witness, a man who had been walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.
Her family released a statement saying they had been ‘overwhelmed by the support’ in their community, and that her daughters were ‘desperate to have their mummy back home safe’.
Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a second witness who they had identified with the help of the public using CCTV but they told police they did not have any further information to aid their inquiry.
Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine Support Unit searched the area close to where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found, while police divers scoured the River Wyre. Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her.
Lancashire Police said it was working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.
Ms Riley urged against speculation, but said it was ‘possible’ that an ‘issue’ with Ms Bulley’s dog may have led her to the water’s edge.
Lancashire Police announced it wanted to trace a ‘key witness’ who was seen pushing a pram in the area near where Ms Bulley went missing on the morning of her disappearance.
The woman described as a ‘key witness’ by police came forward. The force insisted she was ‘very much being treated as a witness’ as it warned against ‘totally unacceptable’ speculation and abuse on social media.
Peter Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), say his team will begin searching the river after being called in by Ms Bulley’s family.
Ms Bulley’s friends said they hoped the help of a specialist underwater rescue team would give the family answers.
Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s partner Mr Ansell, in a statement released through Lancashire Police, said: ‘It’s been ten days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back.
‘This has been such a tough time for the girls especially but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends, as well as the wider community and I want to thank them for their love and support.’
Police urged people to refrain from indulging in commentary and conspiracy theories about Ms Bulley’s disappearance as speculation increases online.
Police held a press conference over the case and say the mother-of-two was classed as a ‘high-risk’ missing person immediately after she was reported missing due to ‘vulnerabilities.’
They later disclosed Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.
In a statement released through Lancashire Police, Ms Bulley’s family said the focus had become ‘distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her private life’ and called for it to end.
Lancashire Police referred itself to the police watchdog over contact the force had with Ms Bulley prior to her disappearance.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanded an ‘explanation’ for the disclosure of Ms Bulley’s private information by the force.
Lancashire Police announced it was conducting an internal review into the handling of Ms Bulley’s disappearance and the Information Commissioner said he would ask the force questions about the disclosure.
Ms Braverman met with police leaders to discuss the handling of the investigation after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also expressed ‘concerns’ about the revelation.
Appearing on the morning broadcast round, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt described the police disclosure as ‘shocking’ while shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who also wrote to the force over its handling of the case, repeated her concerns about the ‘unusual’ level of private information made public about Ms Bulley.
A new search effort was launched less than a mile from where Ms Bulley vanished.
Later on Sunday, Lancashire Police announced they had found a body in the River Wyre.
Police confirm that the body found in the River Wyre is that of Nicola Bulley at a press conference.
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