‘Why can’t they let my beautiful daughter rest in peace?’ - Caroline Flack’s mother’s anger at prosecutor
- Credit: PA
The mother of Norfolk TV celebrity Caroline Flack has fiercely criticised the lawyer who spoke out to justify the decision to prosecute her.
The 40-year-old Love Island host took her own life in her London flat in February, the day after being told the Crown Prosecution Service was pressing ahead with court action against her for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.
In a highly unusual move, Ed Beltrami, who was chief prosecutor for North London at the time, explained the reasons why he decided to charge her.
In an interview with a national newspaper, he said: “You’ve got to do what you think is right. You cannot do what you think is popular.”
Miss Flack’s mother Chris, who still lives in Norfolk, said it was “deeply regrettable that Mr Beltrami could not have let my beautiful daughter rest in peace.”
In a powerful statement responding to Mr Beltrami’s comments - given exclusively to this newspaper - Mrs Flack said: “My daughter was unable to defend herself during her life and is unable to do so now. Shame on you.”
She accused the CPS of “creating the toxic environment which ultimately led to Caroline’s death.”
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Mrs Flack said Mr Beltrami had “repeated untruths” about her daughter’s case and accused the CPS of putting information out in the public after the incident which led to Miss Flack being hounded.
“The CPS released the demons that chased down Caroline,” said Mrs Flack.
In it she said she “took responsibility for what happened that night” but said it had been an accident and she “was NOT a domestic abuser.”
In his interview, Mr Beltrami, now head of the CPS in Wales, admitted the case had troubled him since Miss Flack’s death.
“To be absolutely frank with you I had never actually heard of her,” Mr Beltrami explained. “It had been charged by CPS Direct [which operates 24 hours a day and provides the majority of CPS charging decisions to the police] on the basis of police evidence. It had come into the area and it had blown up in the press which is why it was referred to me.”
There was a backlash against the CPS, especially as Mr Burton had not wanted the case to be pursued.
Mr Beltrami said: “You don’t just fold at the first sign of trouble. The fact the victim doesn’t want to know... you’ve got to look at whether you can prosecute without the support of the victim.
“Domestic abuse is a separate category by itself – [with a] high risk of the offending escalating.”
Mr Beltrami said: “Obviously when you make that decision to proceed with case you have absolutely no idea that the defendant is going to take her own life. You can’t possibly anticipate that sort of thing.
“People say you’re looking for a show trial or you’ve only prosecuted because this person is a famous person,” he said. “But I can assure you there aren’t very many prosecutors who want a show trial. Most just want to get on with their job. The CPS doesn’t really attract that sort of person.”
A CPS spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Caroline Flack.
“It is normal practice for prosecutors to hold a debriefing in complex or sensitive cases after they have ended.
“This has taken place and found that the case was handled appropriately and in line with our published legal guidance.”
*For help and support visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk. Alternatively call the Samaritans 24/7 free helpline on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org.
Mrs Flack’s statement
It is deeply regrettable that Mr Beltrami could not have let my beautiful daughter rest in peace.
It is as regrettable that he should choose to repeat some of the untruths about my daughter.
My daughter was unable to defend herself during her life and is unable to do so now. Shame on you.
Mr Beltrami says that the CPS “had no idea” that my daughter may take her life when they decided to continue the case against her.
If that is true then the CPS ignored the correspondence from my daughter’s solicitors and a psychologist’s report warning of just that possibility.
It also ignores the fact that my daughter had cut herself so badly the night of the incident for which she was arrested that she was taken to two different hospitals and there were concerns for her life.
How can you claim to have “no idea” that someone may take their life when they have already attempted to do so because of the events in question?
Does Mr Beltrami claim to be ignorant of these facts or is he just ignoring them?
The CPS were fully aware of these matters and the risk when they decided to continue the prosecution.
Mr Beltrami also repeats the false allegation that Caroline hit Mr Burton over the head with a lamp.
He does not mention that this was denied by Caroline, denied by Mr Burton in a statement he provided and that this claim was completely inconsistent with the injury that Mr Burton sustained.
The repetition of this lie without any attempt to balance it mirrors what the CPS did to Caroline on December 23, 2019.
The suggestion that my daughter admitted doing so is also false.
She admitted that she accidently made contact with Lewis while she had her phone in her hand while emotionally distressed.
My daughter confessed to an accident – not as is suggested - to an assault.
Mr Beltrami has basically repeated the approach of the CPS In court on December 23 last year.
That day the CPS created the toxic environment which ultimately led to Caroline’s death.
They put into the public domain three claims which were either not true, or which they knew were misleading.
First, they claimed that Mr Burton had suffered a “significant injury” – this was not true as anyone who has seen the photograph of his injury will know.
The police themselves called the injury “minor” consistent with the accidental contact Caroline accepted had happened.
Second, they claimed Mr Burton had been hit by a lamp – without making clear that both Caroline and Lewis denied this or that the injury Mr Burton sustained was inconsistent with this claim.
Third, they referred to the “crime scene” as looking like a “horror film” – when they knew that the blood at the scene was Caroline’s and that she could not publicly say that because of the circumstances that led to that injury.
You can only imagine Caroline’s anguish at the perception she had caused someone else an injury that led to so much blood and not being able to say it was hers for fear that it would be obvious that she had made an attempt on her own life – and she would lose her career.
The subsequent publication of a photograph showing her bedroom covered with HER blood (though suggested to be Mr Burton’s) was enabled because of the CPS approach and the failure to make clear it was not Mr Burton’s blood.
Caroline was so embarrassed and appalled by that photograph – and the person who provided it to the press should be so ashamed of themselves.
I don’t blame the press for publishing this picture in these circumstances – the CPS allowed them to do it by their claims.
However, I do blame the press for not correcting all the false stories that they did publish about Caroline and hounding her when they knew she was unable to speak out.
By putting this information into the public domain the CPS created the environment where Caroline was hounded on social media and the press were able to publish misleading claims about her and the incident.
The CPS released the demons that chased down Caroline.
Now the press are reporting again all these falsehoods without any thought because Mr Beltrami wishes to justify himself.
In doing so he conveniently does not mention that my daughter offered to accept a caution in relation to this incident – not because she was guilty but because she was so distressed and was willing to sacrifice her career to be able to make it all stop.
But the CPS would not engage with discussions about this – because they wanted to force my daughter to be humiliated in court or to plead guilty to something she did not do.