Fern Britton's fury at police for revealing Nicola Bulley's menopause
‘Too easy to write a woman off like this’: Fern Britton leads fury at police for revealing missing Nicola Bulley’s struggle with early menopause and giving ‘undertone that she was maybe unstable and not in her right mind’
- Police revealed yesterday that Nicola Bulley was ‘high-risk’ due to her drinking
Fern Britton today poured fury on the police for revealing Nicola Bulley’s battle with the menopause, declaring that it is ‘too easy to write a woman off like this’.
The broadcaster, 65, has spoken openly about the impact the ‘horrible’ symptoms had on her own physical and mental health.
Today Fern said she was angry that Nikki was depicted by police as ‘a bit unstable’ or ‘not in her right mind’, even though an estimated 13million women in the UK are also battling the menopause.
Nikki’s partner Paul and her family are said to be ‘in pieces’ after the police revealed her medical history yesterday.
Ms Britton said: ‘I am uncomfortable with the latest news suggesting that Nicola Bulley has an issue with alcohol and menopause. The undertone is that she maybe “a bit unstable” or perhaps even “not in her right mind”. Too easy to write a woman off like this. What lies behind it?’
Lancashire Police has been accused of ‘victim blaming’ for disclosing that Ms Bulley suffered ‘some significant issues with alcohol ‘ in the past, which had resurfaced in recent months ‘brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause’. The force was also strongly condemned by MPs and campaign groups.
Police searching for missing Nicola Bulley have been slammed for disclosing that the mother-of-two suffered “some significant issues with alcohol” in the past, which had resurfaced over recent months as she battled the menopause
Fern Britton, who has spoken about her menopause, says she is upset with the police’s decision
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter: ‘I am deeply uncomfortable with the police releasing Nicola Bulley’s so-called ‘vulnerabilities’ on menopause and alcohol.
What is the menopause and how does it impact women?
Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on your daily life, including relationships, social life, family life and work.
It can feel different for everyone. You may have a number of symptoms or none.
Symptoms usually start months or years before your periods stop. This is called the perimenopause.
Changes to your periods
The first sign of the perimenopause is usually, but not always, a change in the normal pattern of your periods, for example they become irregular.
Eventually you’ll stop having periods altogether.
Mental health symptoms
Common mental health symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:
- changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
- problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)
Common physical symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include:
- hot flushes, when you have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest which can make you dizzy
- difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats and make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- palpitations, when your heartbeats suddenly become more noticeable
- headaches and migraines that are worse than usual
- muscle aches and joint pains
- changed body shape and weight gain
- skin changes including dry and itchy skin
- reduced sex drive
- vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
‘I struggle to ascertain how this will assist police in their search & investigations. I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish.’
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that the actions of Lancashire Police were “very unusual”, after the force disclosed that Nicola Bulley suffered “some significant issues with alcohol” in the past, which had resurfaced over recent months.
Senior officers said on Wednesday that Ms Bulley was “vulnerable” and classed by police as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner reported her disappearance.
Ms Cooper refrained from criticising the police, but said she would speak to Lancashire Police in a bid to get answers about the decision.
She told Sky News: “I do have a lot of questions and concerns about that. I would want to speak directly to Lancashire Police about their reasons for doing so before commenting further, because I know there can be complicated reasons for police decisions.
“It’s very unusual and it does raise some quite significant concerns.”
Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, tweeted: ‘Lancashire Police broadcasting missing Nicola Bulley’s health issues and hormone status to the world is a serious invasion of her privacy with no obvious benefits for the investigation.
‘A shocking decision when the police’s treatment of women is rightly in the spotlight.
‘It’s not at all clear how the police are justifying this disclosure, which seems to be aimed at shoring up public support for Lancashire Police’s own forgone conclusions.
‘The ramifications of this invasion of medical privacy could be really serious, including for Nicola’s safety.’
Meanwhile, Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said: ‘The decision to disclose this level of detail on a missing person’s private life, with no evidence that this is assisting in finding her, is deeply troubling.
‘The police need to be much clearer as to why any of this helps find Nicola Bulley or support this investigation.’
Nicola Bulley’s family are in a ‘terrible place’ after detectives revealed to millions that the mother-of-two had battled drink problems while struggling with the menopause.
Lancashire Police has been slammed for disclosing that Ms Bulley suffered ‘some significant issues with alcohol’ in the past, which had resurfaced in recent months.
An expert who had joined in the case said it is ‘absolutely outrageous’ the information was withheld from him, as it would have changed how he searched the stretch of the River Wyre in St Michael’s where she went missing.
Others are angry about the decision to reveal her private medical information when her death has not been confirmed.
Mark Williams-Thomas, a former police officer turned investigative journalist who helped expose Jimmy Savile’s crimes, is to probe Ms Bulley’s disappearance and is now in the area.
He tweeted today: ‘If police dealt with high risk status at [the] start it would have provided much more understanding, leading to less confusion, public hysteria & media involvement (which police haven’t coped with ) & led to less damage to [Nicola’s partner] Paul & family, who are right now after y/day in a terrible place’.
Lancashire Police has sparked anger and grief after detectives revealed that mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, (pictured with her partner Paul) had been struggling with alcohol issues brought on by ongoing struggles with menopause
Ms Bulley’s parents and sister spoke an appeal a number of weeks ago to try and find her
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson (left) and Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith of Lancashire Police updates the media yesterday
The bench where Nicola’s mobile phone was last seen when she vanished on January 27
Setting out his own theories about what has happened, he said: ‘I just can’t believe she jumped in the water at the point by the bench to die for many reasons.’
Dive expert who led hunt for Nicola Bulley says police NEVER told him she was battling alcohol issues and he could have searched differently if he’d known
He said that the main lines he is considering are that Nikki went in water ‘at a different point’, left on foot and is still in area.
‘It’s now clear why the police didn’t t secure scene forensically and ruled out 3rd party involvement so quickly-because they were treating Nicola Bulley as high risk misper [missing person]. But this action fuelled speculation and criticism of the police when confidence is along all time low’, he tweeted.
After Lancashire Police revealed her issues with alcohol ‘brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause’, the force was strongly condemned by MPs and campaign groups.
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said: ‘The decision to disclose this level of detail on a missing person’s private life, with no evidence that this is assisting in finding her, is deeply troubling.
‘The police need to be much clearer as to why any of this helps find Nicola Bulley or support this investigation.’
A forensic diving expert involved in the search for Nicola Bulley said she ‘could have ended up in the sea’ after police revealed she was ‘high risk’ and had been struggling with alcohol.
Peter Faulding said it is ‘absolutely outrageous’ the information was withheld from him, as it would have changed how he searched the stretch of the River Wyre in the village of St Michael’s.
His comments follow Lancashire police revealing that Ms Bulley, 45, suffered ‘significant issues with alcohol brought on by ongoing struggles with menopause’.
Former Surrey Police officer Mark Williams-Thomas, 53, the journalist who helped expose Jimmy Savile’s crimes, is in the area to probe Ms Bulley’s disappearance
Police initially said she had ‘vulnerabilities’ yesterday, but hours later shared more details, explaining they felt it was ‘important to clarify’.
READ MORE: Police debunk nine ‘persistent myths’ about Nicola Bulley’s disappearance
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith holds a press conference into Nicola Bulley’s disappearance
But the decision to publicly share personal information about the mother-of-two has been called ‘deeply troubling’ by MPs and campaigners.
Ms Bulley vanished while walking her dog along the River Wyre in St Michael’s on January 27.
A briefing yesterday explained Ms Bulley was immediately classified as high risk when she was reported missing due to her ‘vulnerabilities’.
Though on February 3, detectives stated she was not unwell and not being treated for any illness.
The police also revealed that on January 10, officers did a welfare check at her home. They confirmed that no one has been arrested and that it is being investigated.
Mr Faulding previously said the mother could not be in the river, after conducting a search under the premise she had slipped in.
But he now believes she could be much further downstream if she intended to take her own life.
Mr Faulding told Jeremy Kyle on TalkTV that: ‘If she had jumped in, intended to take her own life or walk off, that would change my whole plan.
‘She could have ended up in the sea.’
And he told The Times: ‘I find it absolutely outrageous this was not shared with me. It’s disgraceful and someone needs to take responsibility for this.’
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson (left) and Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith. The police said it is an ‘unusual step’ to reveal such detail about someone’s private life, but that they we felt it was ‘important to clarify’ what they meant by ‘vulnerabilities’
READ MORE: Moment TikTok sleuths find ‘stained’ glove near to where Nicola Bulley disappeared
Mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, has been missing now for 19 days from home in Inskip
Nearly three weeks have passed since Ms Bulley vanished, but a search expert advising the police told the newspaper that it can take up to 100 days to find a body in a river.
The expert, who was not named, said in some cases the body is never found.
On the day Ms Bulley went missing, the river was flowing at a rate of 3.8 cubic metres per second.
Enough to carry her over the weir and off downstream, according to the expert.
In the highly-detailed public briefing from Lancashire Police, the force said it had an open mind but that there was no evidence anyone was involved.
It remains the the police’s ‘working hypothesis’ that Nicola fell into the river while taking her dog, though they were following a number of lines of inquiry.
The mortgage adviser had been struggling with menopause. Experts say women go through the menopause at the age of 51 years on average, although it can begin when someone is anywhere between 40 and 58 years old.
During this period the body goes through major hormonal changes, as the ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone.
In the early stages this triggers hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings among other symptoms.
Many social media users felt the decision highlighted the police’s treatment of women – which has recently been under scrutiny following high-profile cases involving former officers such as Wayne Couzens and David Carrick.
Jamie Klingler, co-founder of social justice organisation Reclaim These Streets, said she ‘was not invested in the Nicola Bulley story until the police started using her as a shield to protect their own incompetence’.
She added: ‘This is not how to treat a missing woman. It is cruel to her babies and to her. And they do it all the time.’
‘No evidence to indicate a criminal aspect or third party involvement’ in Nicola Bulley’s disappearance, Lancashire Police Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson said to a press conference this morning.
Jo Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, asked how the police will justify their decision if the mother is found alive.
He tweeted: ‘If, as we all hope, Nicola Bulley is found alive how will the police justify a breach of her confidentiality to, what looks like, manage their own reputation?’
The briefing earlier in the day revealed Ms Bulley’s long-term partner Paul Ansell had told them of a number of specific vulnerabilities that caused them to treat her disappearance as ‘high-risk’.
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith said: ‘As soon as she was reported missing, following the information that was provided to the police by her partner Paul, and based on a number of specific vulnerabilities that we were made aware of, Nicola was graded as high-risk.
‘That is normal in a missing person investigation with the information we were in possession of. As any senior investigating officer does, you form a number of hypotheses – that is scenarios which are possible from the information to hand.’
Yesterday, Lancashire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson said the force had undertaken an ‘unprecedented amount of work’ in searching for Nicola.
He said this had included visiting more than 300 premises, speaking to almost 300 people and receiving roughly 1,500 pieces of information.
Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith said at the time: ‘Those vulnerabilities based our decision-making in terms of grading Nicola as high risk and have continued to form part of my investigation throughout.’
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