Caroline Flack death: when did TV presenter die, who was boyfriend Lewis Burton, and what was she charged with
On Tuesday 15 February, two years will have passed since TV presenter Caroline Flack’s death
British television presenter Caroline Flack poses on the red carpet on arrival for the BRIT Awards 2018 (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
The day before the two year anniversary of former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack’s death, it has been confirmed that the Met Police have been instructed to reinvestigate whether she had been treated differently due to her fame.
Her mother, Christine, reached out to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which has since directed the Met Police to investigate the treatment of Flack by police prior to her death.
This is everything you need to know about what happened.
Who was Caroline Flack?
Caroline Flack was best known as an English TV presenter, famously hosting the reality TV series Love Island from 2015 to 2019. She also presented other shows including The XFactor, Big Brother’s Big Mouth and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! NOW! Which was a companion programme to the main series.
She was born in Enfield, London, on 9 November 1979 and was the youngest of four children to parents Ian Flack and Christine Flack (née Callis).
She had her big break on TV in 2002 when she starred as Bubbles, the pet chimpanzee of Michael Jackson (played by Leigh Fancis a.k.a Keith Lemon), on the sketch show Bo’ Selecta!. From 2002 to 2006, she co-presented the BBC TWo Saturday morning show TMi before then going on to host the CBBC show Escape from Scorpion Island alongside Reggie Yates.
In 2014, Flack was announced as a contestant on the dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing, where she was partnered up with Pasha Kovalev. The two went on to win the series together that December.
Following her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, Flack pursued theatre work, starring as Irene in the stage production of Crazy For You in 2017, and then as Roxie Hart for a Christmas West End run of Chicago in 2018.
Who was boyfriend Lewis Burton?
Lewis Burton is an English model and former professional tennis player.
He was born in the Bexley region of London on 23 March 1992, and started playing tennis at the age of seven. With partner George Morgan, Burton reached the final of the boys’ doubles at Wimbledon in 2010, although they lost out to Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson.
Burton started dating Flack in August 2019, with their relationship made Instagram official by Flack after she posted a picture of her kissing him on the cheek.
Burton is currently in a relationship with make-up artist Lottie Tomlinson, the younger sister of One Direction star Louis Tomlinson. They have been together since July of 2020, having reportedly gotten to know each other at a party earlier that year in May.
The couple recently announced that they are expecting their first child with a post on Instagram.
Tomlinson posted a photo of herself holding her bump and a second shot of herself and Burton. The caption accompanying the images read “just the 3 of us”, followed by a red heart emoji.
The couple have not yet revealed any further details about their child, including the due date, gender or any names.
What was she charged with?
In December of 2019, Flack was arrested and charged with assault by beating after having a fight with Burton.
Officers were called out to her flat in London, and the former Love Island host was taken into custody. Witnesses said at the time that there were six police cars present and one ambulance.
A spokesman for the Met Police said at the time: “Caroline Flack, 40, of Islington was charged on 13 December with assault by beating.
“This follows an incident at approximately 05:25hrs on Thursday, 12 December after reports of a man being assaulted.”
Flack was released on bail until 23 December 2019, when she was set to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.
What happened in court?
Flack pleaded not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court.
The alleged attack occured after Flack found texts on Burton’s phone whilst he was sleeping which caused her to believe he had been cheating on her.
Prosecutor Katie Weiss said: “He said he had been asleep and was hit over the head by Caroline with a lamp, causing a visible cut to his head.
“She had also smashed a glass and she had sustained an injury.”
A section of the police incident report was read out in court, which stated that Flack had said “I did it, I whacked him round the head like that”, and had gestured with a swinging motion with her right hand to officers.
The court also heard that when Burton made the 999 call, he was “almost begging the operator to send help”. Upon arrival at the Islington flat, both Flack and Burton were found covered in blood, with an officer “likening the scene to a horror movie”, according to Weiss.
Weiss said that Flack had been disruptive whilst in police custody and that she had to be “restrained on the ground”.
Flack’s solicitor Paul Morris told the court that Burton had “never supported” the prosecution’s case, and added: “He is not a victim, as he would say, he was a witness.”
Flack had been released on bail on the condition that she not contact Burton directly or indirectly or visit his address. She was due to stand trial at the same court on 4 March 2020.
When did she die?
While waiting to stand trial, Flack was found dead in her London flat on 15 February 2020, aged 40.
A statement from her family at the time said: “We can confirm that our Caroline passed away today, the 15th of February.
“We would ask that the press respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time and we would ask they make no attempt to contact us/or photograph us.”
A lawyer for her family said that the star had taken her own life.
Her funeral took place on 10 March in Greenacres Memorial Park.
Flack’s family shared an unpublished Instagram post which had been written by the TV presenter, which said: “Within 24 hours my whole world and future was swept from under my feet and all the walls that I had taken so long to build around me, collapsed. I am suddenly on a different kind of stage and everyone is watching it happen.
“I have always taken responsibility for what happened that night. Even on the night. But the truth is… It was an accident.”
Flack wrote that she had been having “some sort of emotional breakdown for a very long time”, but emphasised “I am NOT a domestic abuser”.
“We had an argument and an accident happened. An accident,” she wrote.
What was the response to her death like?
Following her death, public scrutiny turned to social media networks and the British press.
Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper said: “The hounding of Caroline Flack shows that parts of the British media continue to wreak havoc on people’s lives.
“In Britain we have trial by courts and not trial by media for a reason. Regardless of what took place she should not have been hounded to death by tabloid newspapers desperate for clickbait.
“The government must stop dragging its feet in introducing independent self-regulation of online and offline publishers.”
Matt Hancock, who was Health Secretary at the time, tweeted: “So sad to see the news of Caroline Flack’s suicide.
“Shows we must do so much more as a society to look out for each other - whether online or off.”
A petition was also signed by more than 850,000 people calling for “Caroline’s Law” which sought to bring an end to “harassment and bullying by the media”.
Why are the Met Police reinvestigating her trial?
A watchdog has instructed police to reinvestigate Caroline Flack’s mother’s complaint that her daughter was treated differently by police due to her fame.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police (MPS) said that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had instructed the MPS to reinvestigate the aspect of an old complaint.
Christine Flack told the BBC she still wants to know why her daughter was charged with the assault – despite prosecutors initially saying she should be given a caution.
She said: “I just want those answers to make me feel better and to make me know that I’ve done the right thing by Caroline.”
She added: “It leaves us really sad and really angry because we want to know why they charged her.
“I just want the truth out there. I know it won’t bring her back but I’ve got to do it for her.”
When asked if she feels the decision to charge her daughter contributed to her death, Mrs Flack said: “Oh, totally. Totally. She couldn’t see a way out.”
She said she has now lost trust in the force, continuing: “There’s no trust at all. No trust at all. I just want the truth out there.
“And it won’t bring her back. I know it won’t bring her back. But I’ve got to do it for her.”
Mrs Flack had accused the police and prosecutors of having it “in for” her daughter, accusing them of taking her to court due to her “celebrity status”.
The MPS spokesman said: “Following a review, the IOPC agreed with the MPS that service was acceptable in relation to seven areas of the complaints relating to the response and handling of the incident by the MPS.
“The IOPC has directed the MPS to reinvestigate one element of the complaints. This relates to the process involved in appealing the CPS decision to caution Ms Flack.
“We will re-examine this element of the investigative process.
“Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Caroline’s family.”
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