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The partner of Nicola Bulley has admitted that he "expected" to be treated as a suspect by police following her disappearance.
Speaking on the Channel 5 programme Vanished: Where is Nicola Bulley, Paul Ansell also said he wasn't giving "any energy" to the online trolls that are pointing accusing fingers at him.
Nicola, 45, went missing on the morning of January 27 while walking the family's pet dog Willow along the River Wyre near the Lancashire village on St Michael's on Wyre.
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The only trace left of her was the mobile phone that was found on a bench beside the river.
As part of the special Channel 5 show, aired on Friday (February 10) at 9pm, presenter Dan Walker asked Paul: "There’s been a lot of publicity around Nikki’s disappearance and I suppose you are one of those stories that is very much talked about on social media. I don’t know whether you’ve read the stories, accusations, all the theories that are out there.
"Does that upset you or are you happy that people are talking about it, trying to find a solution?" Paul replied by saying "it would be upsetting", but only "if I let myself read it all".
He continued: "Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some stuff. Most people have been amazing.
"You're always gonna get that 2% of people that, for whatever reason, say and do not very nice things but I don’t want to give any energy to that. My energy is just finding Nikki.
"I read one that said the police need to look at the partner and I was sort of like, yeah, that’s the first thing that they did. Of course it is.
"I knew that that would happen on the first day. I expected that.
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"I said: 'Do it and get that out the way, then focus on finding her.'"
He insisted that any suggestions of him being involved were "done, ruled out", before adding: "Whatever people wanna say, if that’s what they wanna think, that’s their business. It’s not mine."
Forensic search expert Peter Faulding, who has worked with the family and police on the search, backed Paul up, saying: "Paul needs some form of closure, one way or the other. He’s a distressed man.
"He’s in pieces. I’ve spent a lot of time with him.
“Everyone is behind him. He’s been cleared of everything.
"He’s absolutely not involved in this. Everyone please back Paul and stop all the rubbish on social media."
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- Missing Person
- Channel 5
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