A body thought to be that of Nicola Bulley, last seen walking her dog by a river in an English village, was yesterday found about a mile downstream of where she was last seen. She was missing for three weeks, and her mysterious disappearance caught the nation's attention for every day of it.
Ms Bulley, who worked as a mortgage adviser, was last seen walking her springer spaniel Willow after dropping off her two daughters, aged six and nine, at school on 27 January. Her dog was found shortly after, along with her phone – still connected to a work conference call – on a bench by a steep riverbank. Police previously said they believed the 45-year-old had gone into the river and that her disappearance was not suspicious.
I was in England when this story broke, and was stunned by how gross the tabloid coverage was. From the outset it had the heady tone of conspiracy theory and paranoia. Papers policed reportage in other media, denounced speculation (except their own), railed against online discussion of the victim, and wheeled out various hope merchants to attack the police—including a media-thirsty "dive expert" who declared that Bulley could not possibly be in the water, only to subsequently join the search and fail to find the body that was eventually found in the fucking water. By the time they invited politicians to weigh in, the case was already a smoking wreck of media-stoked misery. That it would take the unpleasant personality of Home Secretary Suella Braverman to make the tragedy even worse only guaranteed that she would begin involving herself in it as much as possible.