Yesterday, British TV host Caroline Flack—best known as the host of Love Island—was found dead from an apparent suicide, just a few weeks before she was set to go on trial for charges related to her allegedly assaulting her boyfriend in a domestic dispute. Now, as reported by Variety, a Change.org petition has been launched asking the British government to look into how the media covers celebrities and public figures like Flack, with petition writer Joshua Anthony declaring that “the headlines, harassment, and trial by media has to end and they must be held accountable.” As of right now, the petition has well over 160,000 signatures, easily crossing the (very arbitrary) mark of 100,000 signatures needed to be “considered for debate in Parliament.”
This comes after British tabloid coverage of famous people has come under renewed scrutiny recently, with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry specifically citing their treatment in the media as one of the factors in their decision to step away from their royal family duties. Variety notes that Flack has been a major target for tabloids in the last few months, with The Sun just posting a story on Friday with what Variety describes as a “Valentine’s Day card mocking [Flack’s] alleged assault.” That article has since been deleted.
It was only a few years ago that the British government was forced to step in and address the way tabloids like The Sun and the Daily Mail treat public figures in the wake of Rupert Murdoch’s New Of The World hacking scandal, which resulted in a public inquiry recommending the launch of a “new, legally recognized media regulator,” but Variety points out that it still hasn’t happened.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.