Legal expert explains why CPS pressed ahead with Caroline Flack assault case

A well-known barrister has explained why the Crown Prosecution Service was right to press ahead with its assault case against Caroline Flack – and there is a very good reason for it doing so.

Caroline was arrested and charged with assault by beating following an incident at the home she shared with partner Lewis Burton in Islington in December last year.

Following the incident, the CPS pressed ahead with the case despite Mr Burton not wanting to press charges.

Now "The Secret Barrister", a junior barrister practising criminal law before the courts of England and Wales, has explained exactly why that was the correct decision.

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Explaining the decision, The Secret Barrister said: "Allegations of domestic violence raise a number of complexities. Often a complainant will withdraw support for a prosecution. But, for obvious reasons, that can’t always be determinative.

"Cases cannot be dropped simply because a complainant doesn’t want their partner prosecuted. Such a system would reward those who successfully coerce victims to withdraw. Sometimes cases must be pursued without the consent of the alleged victim. But not always.

"Even if there is enough evidence to prosecute (and there are ways to prosecute without a willing witness of complaint), the public interest test must be applied."

What is the Crown Prosecution Service?

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers are responsible for examining police evidence, deciding whether to take criminal proceedings through to court prosecution stage, preparing cases for court and conducting prosecutions. They are known as crown prosecutors and are employed by the CPS, which is a government agency. Other responsibilities include:

  • liaising with the police, court staff, defence solicitors and victims of crime etc
  • instructing and advising counsel in Crown Court cases
  • helping to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system
  • collaborating with other criminal justice/law enforcement agencies
  • ensuring that alleged criminal offenders are dealt with fairly

The Secret Barrister added: "Nobody, except those involved in a criminal case, knows enough details to comment on whether the CPS was right or wrong to pursue a prosecution. But certain difficult truths are worthy of reflection. Such as the lack of systemic oversight for the ongoing welfare of the accused.

"As a prosecution and defence barrister, I see frequently how, save in cases where an accused has severe mental health problems that impact upon the legalities of the trial process, there is little consideration for the impact of proceedings upon a defendant’s welfare.

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"Rarely is it acknowledged how the strain of the criminal process – whether the allegation is true or not – can affect a person. Can break a person. And this lack of care pervades not only the system, but our society. Which brings us to how, as a society, we treat those accused.

"How we still, in the 21st century, put the accused in the media stocks, assume their guilt or moral fault, reduce and minimise human complexities, dehumanise and commodify the vulnerable, and consume their personal tragedies for our own transient edification.

"As fingers are frantically pointed in every direction, and articles are deleted and history is hastily rewritten, maybe our priority should instead be to look at how we treat the people – the living, breathing, bleeding human beings – at the centre of our criminal justice system."

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Lewis Burton said he was in "so much pain" after finding out his ex- Love Island host girlfriend had taken her own life yesterday.

A lawyer for the Flack family confirmed that Caroline took her own life and was found in her east London flat on Saturday.

The former Love Island presenter's agent has blasted the CPS for pursuing a case against the "vulnerable" TV star, who tragically killed herself.

Boy George was also among those to criticise the CPS for pursuing the case against Flack.

The singer said he hopes everyone who 'attacked' Caroline felt some sorrow following her death, adding that he hopes the "CPS feel even deeper sorrow".

* Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

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