The family of Caroline Flack have received an apology from the Metropolitan Police for failing to keep a record about why she was charged with assault.
The former Love Island presenter was facing prosecution for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton when she took her own life in February 2020 at the age of 40.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had recommended the late presenter receive a caution following the incident in December 2019, but this was overturned after an appeal from the Met Police who instead charged her with assault by beating.
At the inquest into her death, the coroner ruled that Flack took her own life after learning that prosecutors were going to press ahead with an assault charge.
A spokesman for the Met Police said the force was ordered to apologise to Flack’s family following a review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which found there was not a “record of rationale” to appeal against the CPS decision. He said: “We have done so and acknowledged the impact that this has had on them. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Ms Flack’s family for their loss.”
After an initial investigation by the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) found there was no misconduct, Flack’s family escalated their concerns to the IOPC, which ordered the Met to reinvestigate complaints relating to the process involved in appealing against the CPS decision.
A spokesman said: “That investigation by the DPS concluded in May 2022 and found that the service provided was acceptable. The (Met) identified some learning around using IT systems to record appeal decisions and the use of decision models for cautions, which are being implemented.”
Flack’s family appealed the outcome of the DBS investigation to the IOPC in June last year, and a review did not identify any misconduct but concluded that an officer should receive “reflective practice” - a low-level intervention for behaviours that wouldn’t warrant a written warning or higher.
An IOPC spokesperson said that following “a thorough assessment of this case” the review had been partially upheld. They said: “We determined there were individual and organisational failings by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service), therefore the service provided did not reach the standard a reasonable person could expect in relation to some aspects of the reinvestigation.
“This is because the officer involved did not record their rationale for appealing the original CPS decision to take no further action and the force, at that time, had no system in place to record rationales in these circumstances.
“We have concluded the officer involved should be subject to the reflective practice review process. We have also asked the MPS to apologise to the complainant in relation to the rationale recording, and the absence of a system to record such rationales.”
‘It seems wrong’
Caroline’s mum Christine Flack has said she believes her daughter was treated differently by the police because she was famous. Last month, the force told Christine it was “sincerely sorry” for failing to officially record why the presenter had been charged and said it had since improved record keeping following the incident.
But Christine has said she does not accept the apology. Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Victoria Derbyshire, she said: “It just seems wrong. They haven’t said why there were no notes taken, why nothing was recorded. I don’t know whether they’re covering something.”
Asked if she believes her daughter would still be alive if she had not been charged, Christine said: “I do, I really do. Once all the pictures came out in the newspapers and things were written about her on social media - they just picked up the bad.
“There was a lot of good, but Caroline wasn’t reading the good - she was only reading the bad. She lost her job straight away, without even being found guilty or going to court. She had another series axed.”
Caroline was replaced by Laura Whitmore as the host of ITV’s Love Island following her arrest and was dropped from planned Channel 4 series The Surjury.
Christine has said she will continue campaigning for a more comprehensive apology from the Met for its handling of her daughter’s case. The full interview will air on Newsnight on BBC Two at 10.30pm on Monday 13 March.
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