‘Caroline’s Law’: Privacy for Those in the Public Eye

In the wake of the tragic death of Caroline Flack which has been confirmed in an official statement released by her family yesterday evening, a lot of difficult questions will be being asked this morning.

Best known for hosting the ITV hit-show Love Island, Flack was a household name and one of the most popular TV personalities in Britain. For the last two months however, she has been the subject of a hate campaign by British media, with the press hounding the 40-year-old and mercilessly lambasting her after she was charged for assaulting her boyfriend.

Following her arrest, she was forced to step down from hosting Season 6 of Love Island which commenced in January of this year and was due to appear in Court next month with her trial expected to be one of the biggest celebrity legal cases of 2020.

It however appears that a trial by media has already taken place.

The outcome?

The suicide of one of the most talented shining stars in British broadcasting.

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Caroline Flack, pictured in the run up to her trial

When I wake up this morning grief lingers in the air. I didn’t know Caroline Flack personally but my heart hurts when I think of the circumstances of her death. Her suicide was caused by the media’s witch-hunt of someone who ultimately, in the eyes of the law, was innocent until proven guilty.

As a legal professional who specialises in the Crime, I can tell you that the run up to trial is one of the most stressful periods in a Defendant’s life. A Defendant’s mental health is far from being at it’s best during this period and the absolute last thing that they need on top of this is falling under the intense pressure and scrutiny of the media.

In the aftermath of Flack’s death, I can’t help but question British tabloids such as The Sun who have, in publishing very unethical headlines about Caroline Flack, shown a complete and utter disregard for the law.

Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights “Everyone has the right to respect for his/her private and family life”. And yet, The Sun and various other unethical media outlets in their maltreatment and relentless persecution of Flack, denied her the right to one of her most basic human rights in the run up to her untimely death.

And while I don’t deny that a free press is very much part of our democracy, what I am saying is that we need to question the tactics that were used by some journalists in order to sell cheap stories in this instance. These individuals need to be held accountable for their publication of libelous articles and for infringing on the private lives of public figures.

Simply put – more has to be done to safeguard the human rights of those in the public eye and what is apparent is that there is a vital need for redress in the regulation of the press, specifically focusing on the extent to which the media should be legally permitted to scrutinize cases such as Flack’s. Because the fact that one is in the public eye does not by any means go to say that one should be forced to give up their rights to privacy in their personal life.

And I know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

Indeed, within just fourteen hours of the announcement of Flack’s death, a petition which has already amassed close to 206,000 signatures, is being put forward to the UK government to launch an investigation into the coverage of public figures in British media.

On Twitter too, ‘Caroline’s Law’ is trending, urging the implementation of new legislation which “would make it a criminal offence, not dissimilar to corporate manslaughter, for the British media to knowingly and relentlessly bully a person whether they be in the public eye or not, up to the point that they take their own life”.

The fact that The Sun have already pulled more than one article from their website following Flack’s death, including one that they posted just two days ago, on Valentine’s Day, mocking the TV host’s alleged assault against her boyfriend, is tantamount to an admission of guilt on their part.

What is indisputable is the fact that the media has blood on their hands – they, together with trolls who took to social media to bully Flack, are complicit in her death.

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In one of her final posts on Instagram, uploaded on the 5thDecember 2019, Flack stated “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”.

I think these poignant words from a clearly very remarkable lady, are what I am going to end this post on.

The media will undoubtedly be questioned for their role in the death of Caroline Flack. As individuals who have access to social media as a platform to share our thoughts and feelings, we too need to consider what it is that we are putting out into the world (wide web).

Caroline Flack’s suicide has shown the far-reaching implications that words have on the human mind. Serious loss of life has come about as a direct result of cruel and unkind words. To the everyday normal person, I would urge you to reflect on whether what you are putting out on social media is kind, true or even necessary.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

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