Over 674,000 people sign two separate petitions calling for 'Caroline's law'

17 February 2020, 19:07

Caroline Flack was found dead at a flat in east London on Saturday
Caroline Flack was found dead at a flat in east London on Saturday. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions calling for changes to the way the UK media reports on celebrities in the wake of the death of Caroline Flack.

Caroline, 40, took her own life on Saturday and was found in her east London flat, reportedly by her father.

The media has found itself under intense scrutiny in the wake of her death amid a groundswell of public shock and grief after the tragic loss.

A debate has been raging as to what extent the British press might have been responsible for Caroline’s state of mind in the weeks approaching her death.

Caroline was due to stand trial at Highbury magistrates court on March 4 charged with common assault after being accused of an attack on her boyfriend Lewis Burton on December 12 at a flat in Islington, North London.’

Read more: Love Island star Caroline Flack said she would kill herself, court heard

It was reported today that Caroline had told police while under caution that she “did it” and that “under caution she will kill herself”. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment.

Mr Burton expressed a view that he did not support a case against her and did not consider himself a victim.

After her death a petition was started calling for “new & stricter laws around safeguarding celebrities and people in the public eye.”

The change.org petition calls for laws to prevent the press from:

- Releasing information that there is no evidence for and is therefore false

- Printing source quotes from anyone or an unreliable source

- Invading privacy and sharing private information that is detrimental to the celebrity, their mental health and those around them

- Paparazzi taking and printing images without permission

- Releasing an individuals private medical or health related information or their sexual orientation

- Releasing articles about leaked explicit photos, videos and revenge porn

- Stricter legal boundaries regarding unwanted trespassing nearby the property where the individual resides, or is visiting 

The petition’s online description states: “This will ensure that celebrity’s mental health & human rights are being respect appropriately, safely and with a duty of care.

“It will also help their family & friend’s mental health as they are affected also as unwanted negative attention is then attracted towards them and invades their privacy too.

“This will better prevent self harm, suicide, substance abuse, and poor mental health”.

A separate petition on website 38Degrees calling for the creation of Caroline’s Law has accrued over 474,000 signatures.

It is calling for a law “that would make it a criminal offence, not dissimilar to Corporate Manslaughter, for the British Media to knowingly and relentlessly bully a person, whether they be in the public eye or not, up to the point that they take their own life.”

Flack stepped down from presenting the current winter series of Love Island after the alleged assault.

The ITV programme did not air on Sunday night, but will be back on Monday with a tribute to Flack.

An ITV spokeswoman said: "Many people at ITV knew Caroline well and held her in great affection.

"All of us are absolutely devastated at this tragic news.

"After careful consultation between Caroline's representatives and the Love Island production team and given how close we still are to the news of Caroline's tragic death we have decided not to broadcast tonight's Love Island out of respect for Caroline's family.

"Love Island will return tomorrow night which will include a tribute to Caroline who will be forever in our hearts."

Ambulance crews were called on Friday night to a property in Clapton, north east London, where Flack was thought to have recently moved - but a London Ambulance Service spokesman refused to confirm or deny reports the paramedics attended her flat.

An LAS statement said: "We were called shortly after 10.30pm on 14 February to a residential property on Northwold Road, N16.

"Crews attended and, following a clinical assessment, the person was not taken to hospital. Due to patient confidentiality we cannot comment further."

The LAS also said crews were called to Northwold Road at 2.30pm on Saturday, adding that "a person was pronounced dead at the scene", but would not comment on whether the two incidents were linked.