Ex-Chief Prosecutor explains why charges against Caroline Flack were pressed

16 February 2020, 13:08

Following the death of Love Island star Caroline Flack, a former Chief Prosecutor tells LBC it's common to bring prosecutions even when the victim doesn't want to.

On Saturday Ms Flack was found dead at the age of 40 at her home in east London after taking her own life.

Following the shock death, the national debate moved to the role of the CPS in her case.

The star stepped down from presenting the current winter series of Love Island after she was alleged to have assaulted her boyfriend Lewis Burton 27, at her then flat in Islington, north London, in December.

The news prompted a flood of tributes from celebrities but also questions about the decision to press ahead with prosecuting for the alleged assault on Burton, as well as the pressures faced by TV celebrities from the press and social media.

LBC's Andrew Castle spoke to Nazir Afzal, a former Chief Crown Prosecutor about the case.

Mr Afzal said he understood the criticism of the CPS, but the body would not be able to comment on the case until they formally discontinue the prosecution.

He said the concept of prosecutions where the victim or complainant doesn't want to pursue it is "actually very common."

Adding, "it's not because it's Caroline Flack, it would happen dozens of times every week."

This is because "we as a country," he said, "have decided that we're not handling domestic abuse very well."

Former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal
Former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal. Picture: Twitter

Citing the number of reports to police for 2019 the former Chief Prosecutor said only 10 per cent of the quarter of a million reports of domestic abuse, led to prosecution.

He said the prosecution needed to consider the public interest, and the "vulnerability, or otherwise of the defendant."

Floral tributes were laid outside Ms Flack's home
Floral tributes were laid outside Ms Flack's home. Picture: PA

In a statement released on Saturday night, her management company criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for pressing ahead with what it called her "show trial" even after her boyfriend said he did not support it.

Francis Ridley, of Money Talent Management, said: "In recent months Caroline had been under huge pressure because of an ongoing case and potential trial which has been well reported.

"The Crown Prosecution Service pursued this when they knew not only how very vulnerable Caroline was but also that the alleged victim did not support the prosecution and had disputed the CPS version of events.

"The CPS should look at themselves today and how they pursued a show trial that was not only without merit but not in the public interest. And ultimately resulted in significant distress to Caroline."