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Ofcom writes to Sky News and ITV News following Bulley family intrusion complaint

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The broadcast regulator Ofcom has written to Sky News and ITV News about complaints made by the family of Nicola Bulley.

The family of Bulley, whose body was found on Sunday and identified on Monday after she was reported missing on January 27, complained that the broadcasters had intruded on their grief when they had requested privacy after her body was found.

The broadcasting regulator said in a statement on Tuesday evening that it was “extremely concerned” to hear the statement from the family of Bulley, whose body was identified on Monday after being pulled from the River Wyre in Lancashire river after almost a month-long search, and had written to the two broadcasters asking them to “explain their actions.”

A statement from the family, which was read by police at a press conference on Monday evening, named the two broadcasters specifically and called for them, and the wider media, to be “held accountable” for what had been an “appalling” experience.

The family’s statement condemned the media, who had “accused [Paul Ansell, Bulley’s partner] of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family.”

The statement added: “This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable. This cannot happen to another family.

“We tried last night [Monday] 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.

“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.”

ITV responded: “As a responsible broadcaster, we will cooperate fully and respond in detail to Ofcom’s request for information.

“We express sincere condolences to the family at this difficult time and we will not be commenting further.”

At the time of writing Sky was yet to publicly respond to the Bulley family’s statement, or the Ofcom request.

Former ITN editor-in-chief Stewart Purvis, who has also worked as a senior Ofcom executive, told the BBC: “I think the whole issue of how you approach the families of those who have suffered, who are suffering from the disappearance and possibly the death of a loved one, is a continuing issue in the media.”

He added that the lack of an immediate response from [at the time] ITV or Sky He said the lack of a public response from ITV or Sky News suggested they were “uncomfortable,” and continued: “I’m sure they don’t want to get into a public row with the family, but if they had a proper defence of this situation, I think we would have heard it from them by now, and I’m sure they’re clustered in a group at the moment trying to work out what to say.”

Separately, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said on Tuesday that it was considering whether to take further action against Lancashire Police over the disclosure of private information about Bulley.

An ICO spokeswoman said: “We have made initial inquiries with Lancashire police to understand the reasoning which led to the disclosure of Ms Bulley’s information. We will assess the information provided to consider whether any further action is necessary.”

The body of Bulley was found by two members of the public in undergrowth near the Lancashire village of St Michael’s-on-Wyre on Sunday. It was less than a mile from where she was last seen walking her dog after dropping off her two young daughters at school.

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