It was tragically announced last month that 40-year-old TV presenter Caroline Flack had died by suicide, with her death prompting a movement to ‘be kind’ in her memory.
The presenter was due to stand trial on the 4th March after she was arrested and charged with assault on boyfriend, Lewis Burton, at the end of 2019. She had pleaded not guilty to the charge. Following the arrest and her subsequent stepping down from her job presenting Love Island, Caroline had been hounded by paparazzi and vilified across the tabloids and social media.
Today a petition for ‘Caroline’s Law’ was handed to government, calling for an end to bullying by the media and to prevent further tragedies. It has been signed by over 850,000 people.
The petition, addressed to Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Media, was set up by a member of the public following Caroline’s tragic death on 15 February – gaining 500,000 signatures of support in just two days.
Its aim? To end the harassment and bullying by the British press, and change in the way the media sensationalise the misfortune of individuals.
‘We need the media to be held accountable for the way they harass and vilify people – in the public eye and ordinary members of the public alike,’ announced Holly Maltby, Campaigns Manager at 38 Degrees. ‘The sheer support behind the campaign shows politicians need to urgently step in and make sure there are consequences when the media bully and harass.’
She continued: ‘We have been contacted by hundreds of members of the public sharing their own experiences of being persecuted by the press. It truly is heartbreaking. And shows the devastating effect this type of reporting has on people’s lives, in particular their mental health. That’s why 850,000 people are demanding the minister acts now to end bullying by the media.’
Persecution harassment and vilification in the press can have devastating consequences for those targeted, and from famous figures to unknown members of the public, it can affect anyone.
38 Degrees has collected hundreds of stories from members of the public who’ve been the targets of press intrusion and harassment. Gerry Perryman whose son died in a car crash along with two friends said: ‘The following morning we had the media banging on our front door asking for details of his life and any photographs. [They] did not care we were totally distraught and in pain.’ And a headteacher at a school where a student tragically took their life said: ‘The press invaded our site, sent reporters and photographers onto our premises after being told to leave, tried to intimidate me and colleagues into giving quotes, tried to photograph and interview students. This went on for weeks. We were all in shock with many needing grief management and many needing counselling for months after. The intrusion of reporters into this made everything much worse.’
Action needs to be taken.
If you want to show your support for Caroline’s Law, get involved and sign the petition.