Caroline Flack petition to 'end media bullying' handed to Boris Johnson with 850,000 signatures

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read

A petition calling on MPs to “end the harassment and bullying by the British press” after Caroline Flack’s death has been handed in to the government after receiving a wave of support.

More than 850,000 people have signed the petition on the 38 Degrees website, which calls for “Caroline’s Law”.

The proposal would make it a criminal offence for “the British media” to “knowingly and relentlessly bully a person” to the point of where they kill themselves.

 British TV Presenter Caroline Flack aged 40 was found dead today at her home. She had appeared as a host of several popular Television shows the most recent being Love Island for which she received a BAFTA TV Award during the 2019 ITV Palooza at the Royal Festival Hall. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Campaigners want a new law in Caroline Flack's name that would criminalise "the British media" for pushing someone to suicide. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

TV presenter Flack, who hosted several series of ITV’s Love Island, was found dead at her flat in Stoke Newington, north London, in February. She was 40.

Her family’s lawyer said her death was a suicide and an inquest into her death is due to be held in August.

Caroline Flack and Lewis Burton at the opening of Cahoots Ticket Hall and Control Room in Soho, London. NOVEMBER 6th 2019 REF: WBD 193969 Credit: Matrix/MediaPunch /IPX
Caroline Flack and boyfriend Lewis Burton (Matrix/MediaPunch/IPX)

Her death followed continued media attention on her life and she faced a trial after being charged with assaulting her boyfriend, although he did not want the prosecution to go ahead.

A wave of anger from parts of the public at media outlets and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) came after news of her death was reported. Others blamed social media and the nastiness shown to users online.

The 38 Degrees petition, which will be handed in to culture secretary Oliver Dowden, gained 500,000 signatures within the first two days it was set up after Flack’s death.

The petition’s blurb on the website says that while it can never be known what went through her mind before she died, parts of the media “were quite happy to drag her life through the wringer purely in order to sell a few more papers and it’s just not right”.

Holly Maltby, campaigns manager at 38 Degrees, said: “We need the media to be held accountable for the way they harass and vilify people – in the public eye and ordinary members of the public alike.

“The sheer support behind the campaign shows politicians need to urgently step in and make sure there are consequences when the media bully and harass.

British lawmaker Oliver Dowden, the Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office arrives at 10 Downing Street in London, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shook up his government on Thursday, firing and appointing ministers to key Cabinet posts. Johnson was aiming to tighten his grip on government after winning a big parliamentary majority in December's election. That victory allowed Johnson to take Britain out of the European Union in January. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The petition was handed in to culture secretary Oliver Dowden (AP)

“We have been contacted by hundreds of members of the public sharing their own experiences of being persecuted by the press.

“It truly is heartbreaking and shows the devastating effect this type of reporting has on people’s lives, in particular their mental health.

“That’s why 850,000 people are demanding the minister acts now to end bullying by the media.”

Campaigners gathered in Parliament Square to raise awareness of the campaign, declaring that politicians should hold the media to account and stop.

The campaign has also quoted grieving family members, a headteacher and members of the Justice4Grenfell campaign as claiming they have suffered from press intrusion.