Police and prosecutors 'had it in' for Caroline Flack, says star’s mother

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

The mother of television star Caroline Flack has accused a senior police officer of prosecuting her daughter because of her celebrity status.

Chris Flack said her daughter killed herself as a consequence of Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman’s personal decision to appeal against the plan to hand the former Love Island host a caution for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.

She also accused the Crown Prosecution Service and police of “having it in for” her daughter.

Mrs Flack told prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran: “After listening to you and the first lady (DI Lauren Bateman),  I feel even more that you had it in for Caroline."

Coroner Mary Hassell  said Caroline Flack died by suicide. She said the star was plagued with mental health issues and the prospect of a criminal trial was too much.

“I find the reason for her taking her life was she now knew she was being prosecuted for certainty, and she knew she would face the media, press, publicity – it would all come down upon her," she said.

“To me, that’s it in essence.”

Flack admitted hitting Mr Burton when officers were called to her home in London in December 2019, saying she did so because she found out he was cheating on her.

Prosecutors decided to charge Flack with assault after Ms Bateman, the Metropolitan Police inspector on duty at the time, contested their initial decision.

Caroline Flack, pictured leaving court in December after pleading not guilty to assaulting boyfriend Lewis Burton Credit: PA

Flack’s mental health deteriorated and she killed herself in February 2020, weeks before she was due to stand trial.

In an impassioned examination of Ms Bateman’s evidence during the inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court, Mrs Flack said she felt “even more upset now than I did at the start” of the inquest, after the detective said she would not have acted any differently.

She told Ms Bateman: “You took her (Flack) away, he (Mr Burton) was allowed to take pictures of the blood of Caroline, send them to friends, and they appeared in the press.

“You didn’t investigate it.

“If it had been… an ordinary person, you wouldn’t have prosecuted.

“I just think you should be disgusted with yourself so there is nothing we can do to bring Caroline back.

“I hope in hindsight you do regret this.

“This girl killed herself because you put an appeal through.”

Coroner Mary Hassell asked Ms Bateman whether she was motivated by Flack’s celebrity status to charge her.

All I can say is I was not biased and I treat everyone the same

Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman

The coroner said: “(Flack’s) family feel that she was being taught a lesson in a way that a non-celebrity would not have been – that this was motivated by treating a celebrity in a way that a non-celebrity would not have been treated.

“Is it the case that you were motivated in part by Caroline’s celebrity status?”

Ms Bateman replied: “No absolutely not, I would have done exactly the same if it had been anyone.

“All I can say is I was not biased and I treat everyone the same.”

The inquest heard Flack was found naked and covered in blood with a self-imposed cut to her wrist when police arrived on the scene, and told officers: “I hit him (Mr Burton), he was cheating on me.”

But Ms Bateman said Flack had not made it clear in her police interview later what she was admitting to.

The inquest heard that in her police interview, Flack said she flicked Mr Burton “to wake him up”, and she did not believe she caused his injury.

The coroner suggested Ms Bateman was “splitting hairs” in what she considered to be Flack’s admission of guilt.

Ms Bateman replied: “In my view, it wasn’t a clear admission of what had happened.”

The inquest is taking place at Poplar Coroner’s Court in London Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

A lack of admission meant the case could not be dealt with through a caution, the inquest was told.

On Wednesday, friends described how Flack had serious concerns about her trial in March, but had met with her lawyers on February 14 when she thought the case might be dropped.

However, it was then that her legal team outlined the CPS’s decision – made the previous day – to go ahead with court action.

Flack took a non-fatal overdose of tablets later that night, telling loved ones she was going to kill herself.

Worried friends attended her flat and called for an ambulance, but Flack refused to go to hospital.

Her friends stayed with the television star overnight and left mid-morning, but said they were aware Flack was angry with them for calling the emergency services and therefore risking the episode being made public.

Flack was found hanged at her home in the mid-afternoon.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran said the CPS looked at Flack’s mental health when the case was first reviewed, including evidence that the television personality self-harmed at the crime scene when she allegedly assaulted Mr Burton.

Floral tributes placed outside Caroline Flack’s former home Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

However, it was decided it was in the public interest to authorise a charge of assault by beating, particularly considering the domestic violence allegation.

Mr Burton said he did not support the charge, and said Flack “was not in a good place emotionally”.

Coroner Mary Hassell said Caroline Flack died by suicide.

She said: “The key decision for me to make is whether Caroline took her own life.

“I have to be satisfied she acted in a way so as to cause her death, and secondly that she intended to cause her death.

“In Caroline’s case I am entirely satisfied she intended to cause her own death.

“She hanged herself. She had only one expectation – her own death.

“There’s no doubt in my mind at all.”

The coroner said: “Caroline had fluctuating mental ill health, she had had struggles in the past.

“She had had difficulties. In spite of the fact she may have led – to some – a charmed life, actually the more famous she got the more some of these difficulties increased – she had to deal with the media in a way most of us don’t.

“It was played out in the national press – and that was incredibly difficult for her."

“I find the reason for her taking her life was she now knew she was being prosecuted for certainty, and she knew she would face the media, press, publicity – it would all come down upon her.

“To me, that’s it in essence.”

Flack’s mother, twin sister, and two close friends joined the hearing by video link, although Mr Burton was absent.

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org