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11th Feb 2023

‘Police say my missing uncle fell in the river – why aren’t they helping us like Nicola Bulley?’

Steve Hopkins

‘We’re watching this whole thing for the woman evolve on the television, all these people out searching for her and it seems like it’s a completely different process’

The family of a missing man presumed to have fallen into a river have slammed police’s handling of the case – compared to the huge search underway for Nicola Bulley.

Mark Bishop disappeared without a trace after he was last seen near an Aldi supermarket in Newark, Nottinghamshire, on January 7 this year.

Nicola was last seen on January 27 walking her dog along the River Wyre, Lancashire. Some 40 detectives are involved in the case along with dozens of searchers and specialist divers in what Lancashire Police said was “unprecedented” in a missing person inquiry. The story of the missing mum-of-two has also dominated the media.

Police Bishop, 64, may have fallen into the nearby River Trent after crossing over a bridge but he remains missing more than a month later. Lancashire Police’s “main working hypothesis” is that Nicola “accidentally” fell in the river.

Mark’s family and friends have criticised police for “doing nothing” to look for him despite parallels with the ongoing hunt for 45-year-old Nicola.

They say cops have made them feel like “Mark doesn’t exist” and declared: “Surely my uncle is just as important as this poor woman.”

One family friend even claims she was told by a police worker that is was “more likely a fisherman or a dog-walker would find him”.

His niece, Claire Arbuthnott, who lives in Edinburgh, said: “We are very unhappy because for the past few weeks the police have been saying he’s fallen in the river and that’s all they can tell us.

“We know they have a process but we’d expect them to be doing a bit more.

“Now, we’ve seen this woman go missing (Nicola Bulley) and everyone is talking about her but we don’t understand why he isn’t getting the same publicity and attention.”

Claire said the family “thought” they just had to “wait and see what the police said”, but have watched as a never-ending stream of coverage of Nicola’s disappearance has appeared in the media.

“We’re watching this whole thing for the woman evolve on the television, all these people out searching for her and it seems like it’s a completely different process,” she said.

“Surely my uncle is just as important as this poor woman.

“My mother, Mark’s sister, cries pretty much every time we mention his name.

“She managed to go down to Newark last week so she could walk down by the river and say goodbye to her brother. “But she shouldn’t have to say goodbye when we don’t actually know what’s happened yet.”

Gina Radford, a close family friend, said they had been left frustrated by a lack of effort from police to find Mark and poor communication.

Gina, of Balderton, Nottinghamshire, said: “They are doing nothing to look for him. It’s like Mark doesn’t exist.”

Mark was last seen near Aldi on Northgate on the evening of January 7, and reported missing two days later by a neighbour. He is believed to have fallen into the River Trent after crossing the Millennium footbridge.

Concerned for his safety, Nottinghamshire Police released a public appeal along with two images of Mark on January 10, but his family and friends have been left angry with the lack of action since.

The frustration has been compounded by the extent of the the coverage and manhunt for Nicola.

Family and friends ­— including Gina ­— have been taking it in turns to walk the river route most days on lunch breaks and after work in hope of finding any sign of Mark.

Gina said CCTV showed Mark walking past Aldi towards the river at 8.45pm before crossing a bridge towards a marina in a “confused state”.

She added: “That is when he disappeared and then there were no sightings or CCTV showing where he might have been after that.

“It is believed he may have slipped as he was unsteady on his feet.”

Police told the family they sent divers to search the Trent on January 17 and that they would return again soon to resume the hunt, but, Gina said, “since then nothing else has happened at all”.

“Whenever I get a message, the police say there is no further news and that divers will be sent again soon.

“But every week it’s again soon and never a date.

“The last time I spoke to the police, the woman on the phone said that they think Mark slipped, fell into the water and that is was more likely a dog walker or a fisherman would find him than the police and even then it could take weeks or months.”

Nottinghamshire Police say they have examined local CCTV and sent in specialist divers in the search.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Hall said Mark’s disappearance was “very much out of character and his family and friends are understandably extremely concerned for his welfare”.

“As with all investigations of this nature we have been working hard to understand Mark’s last known movements,” Hall said.

“We have thoroughly examined the local CCTV network and have also analysed his last financial transactions to build the clearest possible picture of what may have happened to him.

“Specialist police divers have also searched an area of the river in an effort to locate Mark, and regular updates have also been provided to his next of kin.

“I can only imagine the pain and upset felt by Mark’s family and friends during this very difficult period and I urge anyone with relevant information to come forward and let us know without delay.”

Anyone with information about Mark’s disappearance is asked to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101 quoting incident 365 of Monday, January 9, 2023.

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