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Lawyers attack decision to prosecute Caroline Flack

Prominent lawyers have criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for its decision to charge Caroline Flack with assault.

They claim that Prosecutors who doggedly pursued Caroline Flack on domestic abuse charges were more interested in getting a “high profile scalp” than in satisfying the public interest, leading lawyers have suggested.

Ms Flack, who was found dead at her east London flat on Saturday, just hours after learning that her trial for allegedly attacking her boyfriend, Lewis Burton, was to go ahead. Mr Burton did not support her prosecution and tried to drop all charges.

Following the arrest of the Love Island Presenter Caroline Flack, she made it clear to Officers that she wanted to take her own life.

News that the former Love Island presenter told police officers in the aftermath of the alleged assault that she would take her own life has sparked furious debate over the standards the CPS uses to determine charging decisions. Prosecutors have defended their decision, explaining that they apply both evidential and public interest tests. “We do not decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, that is for the jury, judge or magistrate, however we must make the key decision on whether a case should be put before a court,” they said.

It is up to the CPS to decide whether there is enough evidence to press charges against an accused. Both the victim (Lewis) and the accused (Caroline) denied all wrongdoing and it has since been confirmed that the blood from the row was in fact that of Caroline Flacks (when picking up broken glass).

Dr Charlotte Proudman, a barrister at Goldsmith Chambers, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire: “I’m struggling to understand why the CPS brought this prosecution in the first place. By all accounts, it was made very clear that Caroline was suffering severely with her mental health not only at the time of the incident but also subsequent to that. It’s likely as a result of this prosecution that she became even more vulnerable.”

Chris Daw QC, a high-flying criminal barrister, said he believed the policy of prosecuting domestic abuse cases “against the express wishes of the complainant” should be reviewed. He tweeted: “I have no doubt that a more sensitive approach to the case would have avoided this terrible tragedy. We have become obsessed with the idea that criminal prosecutions can solve these problems. They cannot.

In response to questions around charges being forced onto Caroline Flack, the CPS has put the following guidelines on their website which say “Retractions and withdrawals by complainants. It is possible that a complainant may ask the police not to proceed any further with a prosecution case and say they no longer wish to give evidence. There may be a number of reasons why a complainant will withdraw their support from a prosecution, or retract their allegation, but this does not mean that the case will be automatically stopped.”
Campaigners are now putting pressure on the Government and the CPS to urgently review the way they handle cases involving mental illnesses.