Underwater search expert ’caused challenges’ to Nicola Bulley investigation

Underwater search expert ’caused challenges’ to Nicola Bulley investigation

Peter Faulding told the media Lancashire Police had ‘low-tech’ diving equipment (Picture: PA)

The behaviour of an underwater expert involved in the search for Nicola Bulley ’caused challenges to the investigation’.

Peter Faulding, leader of underwater search experts Specialist Group International (SGI), told media Lancashire Police had ‘low-tech’ diving equipment which was unlikely to find a body.

Ms Bulley’s family became aware of this report and efforts were made to contact SGI to help the search and to ask police to get SGI involved.

Mr Faulding also told the family he thought he had identified the believed location of a body.

The College of Policing report said the police felt this ’caused challenges to the investigation’, and caused unwarranted distress to the family.

Police investigators were advised that SGI did not have any better equipment that could not be secured by the force.

Communication by Ms Bulley’s family friend to police expressed a ‘strong message that refusal to use Mr Faulding and SGI’ would result in a ‘negative press release to the media’.

Lancashire Constabulary felt it was placed in an unenviable situation, which would lead to a widespread negative perception that the force was not using every opportunity to locate Ms Bulley, the report said.

Ms Bulley vanished while walking her dog in January (Picture: PA)

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The force felt that this would undermine public trust and confidence so agreed to allow the use of SGI to support them in their search efforts and contacted Mr Faulding, who offered his services free of charge.

The review said Lancashire Police appeared to present him with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) not to discuss the search with anyone outside the investigation.

But SGI responded that no ‘official’ NDA had been discussed or signed and, in fact, Mr Faulding and his team felt ‘ambushed’ by the press and had no support from police so assumed his involvement with the media was ‘within the terms of engagement’.

Specialist Group International, including CEO Peter Faulding (right)(Picture: PA)

The police felt they then had to divert resources to remedy the false alarms caused Mr Faulding.

The report continues: ‘It is the view of Lancashire Constabulary that Mr Faulding had a significant impact on the investigation and public confidence through his activities and his engagement with the media.

‘The review team considers that some of his actions created a more challenging environment for the investigation team.

‘His public statements often contradicted the investigative and operational approach, leading to confusion for the public and reducing the family’s trust in the investigation and search operation.’

Metro has contacted SGI for comment.

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