Many superlatives followed the death recently of television presenter Caroline Flack. I must confess I was not a fan although I knew who she was, mainly due to press reports surrounding her recent arrest.

‘Shocked’, ‘devastated’ and the such like have been bandied around by talking heads, many of whom had not met, nor knew her.

I guess I would class the whole sorry saga as saddening. No one, irrespective of their social standing, should feel so low that they resort to ending it all no matter how desperate they deem the situation they find themselves in to be.

As with such events, after the initial grief and shock come the recriminations. It did not take long for that blame to be laid solely at the press’s door. This has become a fevered feeding frenzy where those castigating the press as bullies are doing to the press exactly what they claim Ms Flack fell victim to.

In a nutshell, Flack was arrested after allegedly finding texts on her boyfriend’s phone. The content of these texts is unknown. As he slept, she allegedly hit him hard over the head with a lamp that caused such an injury that a police officer likened the scene to a horror movie. She was arrested and charged. The boyfriend subsequently, publicly, stated he wanted the charges dropped but the CPS decided to proceed.

She stepped down from her job presenting Love Island and subsequently took her life.

At this juncture it is worth considering how this situation would have been viewed if the gender roles had been reversed. If the boyfriend, Lewis Burton, had struck Ms Flack over the head with a blunt object in her sleep, we would be calling him out as psychopathic and demanding retribution. If she then came out and asked for charges to be dropped, we would be willing her to be brave and oppose the tyranny of domestic abuse. We would claim the man was putting pressure on to continue to exert control and he would be cast out by all and sundry.

The press had a right to report on this story and I have read nothing that was unduly untoward. If anything, post Leveson, and because she is a she, support has been forthcoming and even David Walliams got roundly slated for having a dig at Caroline’s plight post arrest. That has been conveniently forgotten about in the last few days however as we kind of like him and the kids love his books.

The press, in the wake of the suicide, are now firmly public enemy number one, but when asked for specific examples of where they crossed the line with Ms Flack, none have been forthcoming. It is as if some, who have gripes legitimate or otherwise against the press from years past, have seen an opportunity to put the boot in and are taking it with glee.

The British press have rightly been castigated in previous years. The watershed was undoubtedly when Milly Dowler’s voicemails were hacked. This was as low as it is possible to go and culminated in the much vaunted Leveson enquiry, which, although not completed or acted on anywhere near its entirety, fired a serious shot across the press's bows. The News of the World was the biggest casualty.

The nub however is that if you put yourself in the public eye and are prepared to be gilded handsomely, then the downside is you become newsworthy. Ms Flack, like many before her, played the media game.

Although Ms Flack's untimely death is being used as a stick to thrash the press about with, maybe those complaining want to look at themselves.

Weinstein got away with his antics for years, as did Saville, as did Clifford, and those in the land of celebrity knew of their wrongdoings yet did nothing until it came out in the wash and they jumped aboard the machine to have a ritual public group cleansing.

Members of the celebrity circuit have long held grudges against the press after being caught, literally, with their pants down, but to continue blaming the press for every tragic event is akin to tarnishing all Germans as evil 75 years after the cessation of the Second World War.

The blame for Ms Flack’s death must not be a reactionary, knee jerk castigation of the press. I would rather have a free press challenging and investigating those in positions of authority, although, admittedly, occasionally they do cross the line. It is at this time they should be attacked with specific examples of their wrongdoing, which have not been forthcoming in this sorry saga.

Ms Flack should be allowed to rest in peace, and we should not allow her death to be used as a vehicle for those who have self-serving ulterior motives.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher