Police used Caroline Flack’s celebrity status against her, claims her mother
An inquest into the death of the TV presenter is continuing at Poplar Coroner’s Court in London.
The mother of television star Caroline Flack has accused a senior police officer of prosecuting her daughter because of her celebrity status.
Chris Flack said her daughter killed herself as a consequence of Detective Inspector Lauren Bateman’s personal decision to appeal against the plan to hand the former Love Island host a caution for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.
Flack admitted hitting Mr Burton when officers were called to her home in London in December 2019, saying she did so because she found out he was cheating on her.
Prosecutors decided to charge Flack with assault after Ms Bateman, the Metropolitan Police inspector on duty at the time, contested their initial decision.
Flack’s mental health deteriorated and she killed herself in February 2020, weeks before she was due to stand trial.
In an impassioned examination of Ms Bateman’s evidence during the inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court, Mrs Flack said she felt “even more upset now than I did at the start” of the inquest, after the detective said she would not have acted any differently.
She told Ms Bateman: “You took her (Flack) away, he (Mr Burton) was allowed to take pictures of the blood of Caroline, send them to friends, and they appeared in the press.
“You didn’t investigate it.
“If it had been… an ordinary person, you wouldn’t have prosecuted.
“I just think you should be disgusted with yourself so there is nothing we can do to bring Caroline back.
“I hope in hindsight you do regret this.
“This girl killed herself because you put an appeal through.”
Coroner Mary Hassell asked Ms Bateman whether she was motivated by Flack’s celebrity status to charge her.
The coroner said: “(Flack’s) family feel that she was being taught a lesson in a way that a non-celebrity would not have been – that this was motivated by treating a celebrity in a way that a non-celebrity would not have been treated.
“Is it the case that you were motivated in part by Caroline’s celebrity status?”
Ms Bateman replied: “No absolutely not, I would have done exactly the same if it had been anyone.
“All I can say is I was not biased and I treat everyone the same.”
The inquest heard Flack was found naked and covered in blood with a self-imposed cut to her wrist when police arrived on the scene, and told officers: “I hit him (Mr Burton), he was cheating on me.”
But Ms Bateman said Flack had not made it clear in her police interview later what she was admitting to.
The inquest heard that in her police interview, Flack said she flicked Mr Burton “to wake him up”, and she did not believe she caused his injury.
The coroner suggested Ms Bateman was “splitting hairs” in what she considered to be Flack’s admission of guilt.
Ms Bateman replied: “In my view, it wasn’t a clear admission of what had happened.”
A lack of admission meant the case could not be dealt with through a caution, the inquest was told.
On Wednesday, friends described how Flack had serious concerns about her trial in March, but had met with her lawyers on February 14 when she thought the case might be dropped.
However, it was then that her legal team outlined the CPS’s decision – made the previous day – to go ahead with court action.
Flack took a non-fatal overdose of tablets later that night, telling loved ones she was going to kill herself.
Worried friends attended her flat and called for an ambulance, but Flack refused to go to hospital.
Her friends stayed with the television star overnight and left mid-morning, but said they were aware Flack was angry with them for calling the emergency services and therefore risking the episode being made public.
Flack was found hanged at her home in the mid-afternoon.
On Wednesday, prosecutor Lisa Ramsarran said the CPS looked at Flack’s mental health when the case was first reviewed, including evidence that the television personality self-harmed at the crime scene when she allegedly assaulted Mr Burton.
However, it was decided it was in the public interest to authorise a charge of assault by beating, particularly considering the domestic violence allegation.
Mr Burton said he did not support the charge, and said Flack “was not in a good place emotionally”.
No members of Flack’s friends and family were present in court for the two-day hearing.
Flack’s mother, twin sister, and two close friends joined the hearing by video link, although Mr Burton was absent.
Flack’s death prompted an outpouring of sorrow from celebrity friends, colleagues and fans, who referenced one of the former Strictly winner’s social media posts from December in which she urged people to “be kind”.
Her death was the latest connected to Love Island, following the deaths of contestants Mike Thalassitis, 26, in March 2019 and Sophie Gradon, 32, in June 2018.
Ms Gradon’s boyfriend Aaron Armstrong, 25, died three weeks after he found his girlfriend had died.
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