Prosecutor explains why he charged Love Island presenter Caroline Flack
PUBLISHED: 21:48 06 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 07 June 2020
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The lawyer accused of pursuing a “show trial” against Norfolk TV celebrity Caroline Flack has said he believes he made the right decision in prosecuting her.
The 40-year-old Love Island host took her own life in her flat in London 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.
Days before she died, Miss Flack wrote a powerful message about the ordeal she had been through and had wanted to post it on Instagram but was told by advisers not to.
Her family released the message exclusively to the EDP and 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.”
Miss Flack, who went to school in Watton, wrote how “my whole world and future was swept from under my feet” and how she had lost her career and her home.
Now, in a highly unusual move, Ed Beltrami, who was chief prosecutor for North London at the time, has explained the reasons why he decided to charge her.
Mr Beltrami, who is now the head of the CPS in Wales, admitted the case had troubled him since Miss Flack’s death.
In an interview with Wales on Sunday, he said: “You’ve got to do what you think is right. You cannot do what you think is popular.”
He added he did not know of Miss Flack before the file landed on his desk.
“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.
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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.”
“We have quite an important role to try and bring criminal justice together,” said Mr Beltrami. “The trick is to coordinate all of that so we are all pointing in the same direction, which is easier said than done.”
Miss Flack’s family did not want to respond to Mr Beltrami’s comments as an investigation into the police’s handling of the case and the reason they gave the CPS to prosecute is continuing.
The CPS announced in March that it would be conducting a review into Miss Flack’s death.
Later that month, the CPS found the case was handled “appropriately”.
A 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
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