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South Shields petition calling for 'Caroline's Law' gathers 500,000 signatures

The petition gathered more than 500,000 signatures within hours. Credit: 38 Degrees website

A petition launched by a South Shields man, calling for laws to prevent media harassment of celebrities has gathered more than half a million signatures in the space of a few hours.

It comes after Caroline Flack, former presenter of Love Island, was found dead in her apartment. A lawyer for the family confirmed she had taken her own life.

Dennis Patton, from South Shields started the petition on the 38 Degrees website. It calls for new laws to stop sections of the media knowingly and relentlessly bullying people, whether famous or not. It is addressed to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Media.

I started this petition calling for Caroline's Law because the media seem to act with impunity. They're quite happy to drag someone's life through the wringer purely in order to sell a few more papers.”

“What price a life? This isn't the first time this has happened, and I'm concerned that without a new law, it won't be the last.”

– Dennis Patton

On Sunday afternoon the petition was attracting more than 50,000 new signatures every hour. As of 12.15pm on Monday 17 February, the petition had reached 510,000 signatures and was growing at many hundreds per minute.

Caroline Flack was found dead in her London flat at the weekend. Credit: PA

“The sheer number of people signing this petition speaks to a huge outpouring of grief and anger after Caroline’s tragic death.”

“People are saying enough is enough. They want the government to do something to make sure our media can’t bully or harass those in the public eye.”

– Robin Priestley, Campaigns Director at 38 Degrees
The petition will likely be considered by the Petitions Committee, due to the high number of signatures. Credit: PA

This is what some of the people who signed had to say about why they signed the petition:

“We teach children that bullying is wrong, yet it is present in all forms of public adult interaction unless we step in to make changes. As soon as laws and accountability is addressed, the sooner these money makers will have to admit their impact and motivation in driving these campaigns.” - Suzanne.

“It's obvious that some parts of Media are incapable of disciplining themselves. They have caused great misery to innocent people as a result, so need some controls.” - Merril.

Mr Patton emailed Oliver Dowden on Monday morning and is awaiting a response.

ITV Tyne Tees has contacted the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and is awaiting a response.

The Petitions Committee will likely look at the petition due to the high number of signatures and consider any further action, such as holding a House of Commons debate.