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March 6, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:00am

ITV boss says ‘we can never know’ why Love Island’s Caroline Flack took her life

By PA Media Lawyer

The boss of ITV has described the death of Caroline Flack as “unbelievably tragic” and said that people can never know the reasons behind suicide.

Dame Carolyn McCall spoke at a conference in London where she addressed the death of former Love Island host Flack, who took her own life last month aged 40.

The broadcasting chief said ITV staff had been “absolutely devastated” by the news.

She told Enders and Deloitte’s Media And Telecoms 2020 And Beyond conference: “I think the thing about Caroline Flack is that ITV are absolutely devastated by what happened to her.

“So many people at ITV knew Caroline, including me, and it was unbelievably tragic.

“I think that we can never know what is behind suicide. It is not in any way simple. It is a very, very complex thing.

“We take advice from (mental health charities) Samaritans and Mind and we will continue to do that.”

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Flack died at her east London home while awaiting trial on an assault charge.

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct has ruled that there is no indication of a “causal link” between the actions of police and the TV presenters death, and will not investigate.

More than 850,000 people signed a petition calling for “Caroline’s Law”, which would make media bullying and harassment a criminal offence.

Dame Carolyn reaffirmed her channel’s commitment to duty of care, highlighting its work with Dr Paul Litchfield.

The deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, and The Jeremy Kyle Show guest Steve Dymond, prompted increased scrutiny on ITV over its aftercare.

Dame Carolyn said: “As far as duty of care is concerned, we are absolutely focused on making sure our duty of care is, for both our participants and for our talent, world class. We want to be best in class for that.

“I think because we reviewed Love Island last summer, so a few months before last summer’s series, Paul Litchfield, who is the former CMO, works with us, and he made a whole load of recommendations which we have implemented, which is about aftercare, which is about casting, which is about a whole range of things – financial management, social media management.

“Social media is the thing that has gone absolutely ballistic. It has actually only happened in the last three years, because in the first two years (Love Island) was too small.

“It wasn’t really a successful programme. It has only really made a big difference in the regionals three years ago on social media.

“We take that very serious and we are actually working with the industry on how we can share all of that and how we can learn and pool our resources, so we can learn from each other. So that is what we are doing.”

After ruling herself out of the race to succeed Lord Tony Hall as the BBC’s director-general earlier in the day, Dame Carolyn said it would be “fantastic” if the corporation was led by a woman.

“I think the BBC genuinely needs the best person for the job and if that is a woman that would be fantastic,” she said.

“But I think the BBC has a huge amount of work cut out for it and needs the very best person for the job.”

Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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