Caroline Flack 'hounded' by press before her death, inquest hears

Love Island presenter Caroline Flack was “seriously let down by the authorities” and “hounded” by the press over her forthcoming trial in the weeks before she killed herself, her inquest has heard.

The 40-year-old was found hanged at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London, on 15 February amid concerns her hard-earned life and reputation “was falling apart”.

At the time of her death, Flack faced an allegation that she had violently abused boyfriend Lewis Burton which was due in court the following month.

Flack’s twin sister Jody told the inquest that sections of the press were “hounding her” in the months before her death and had paid neighbours to inform them of her movements.

Her written statement, read by Coroner Mary Hassell at Poplar Coroner’s Court, said: “Caroline spent the last few months of her life hiding inside, scared of the abuse.”

Burton, in his witness statement, said Flack was “very upset” the last time he saw her, although it was not stated when this was.

He said: “She was very upset, in fact devastated, she was not in a good place emotionally. Sometimes she talked about taking her own life when she was extremely upset.

“The media were constantly bashing her character, writing hurtful stories… generally hounding her daily.

“What was worrying her most was the police case and losing her presenting job on Love Island, plus not being able to see me.”

Flack’s mother Chris claimed that she had been told by her daughter that Burton had sent a picture of the bloody crime scene which formed the assault charge to one of his former girlfriends.

It subsequently ended up published by The Sun, which splashed on the photo with the headline “Flack’s bedroom bloodbath”, and other parts of the press.

Chris Flack said: “Lewis sent the photo of the blood and sent it to his friend. That killed her.”

Flack’s sister Jody said an ambulance had been called for Flack four times previously, and that she believed the shame “was too much to deal with”.

“She was called a ‘killer’ and an ‘abuser’ on the front of the newspapers. The press and the public found this a very entertaining angle, and was spiralling out of control.”

Flack added: “Her life and reputation she worked hard to build was falling apart … because of a false accusation. It was our belief it would not be happening to her if she wasn’t in the public eye. At worst, her career and reputation, so precious to her, had been taken away.”

Flack’s friend Mollie Grosberg also pointed to the press when she said the presenter’s mental health deteriorated the more famous she became.

She said: “Increasingly over the last few years she had a lot of heartache and the press seemed to pick up a lot on her.”

She added: “She was so scared to go to prison, of the police, the press… it was too much.”

The inquest also heard that Flack refused to go to hospital the night before she was found dead after taking a number of tablets.

According to an unnamed female paramedic who attended the scene, she said she did not want to go “due to privacy and that the media found out last time”.

Flack’s death led to outrage towards tabloid newspapers, including a call for a new Government inquiry into the press and another for “new and stricter laws around safeguarding celebrities and people in the public eye”.

To contact the Samaritans, call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org.

Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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