Entertainment & Arts

Caroline Flack: Boyfriend Lewis Burton says 'my heart is broken'

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Media captionCaroline Flack won a British Academy Television Award for Love Island in 2018

Caroline Flack's boyfriend said they had "something special" as he paid tribute to the former Love Island host, who was found dead in her London flat on Saturday.

In an emotional Instagram post, Lewis Burton said: "My heart is broken".

A lawyer for her family said Flack had taken her own life.

Her management company said the 40-year-old had been "under huge pressure" since she was accused of assaulting Burton - a charge she denied.

She was due to stand trial next month.

In his post accompanying a picture of the couple at a beach bar, Burton promised the star he would "be your voice baby", and that he would "try make you proud everyday".

Flack's management company have criticised prosecutors for pursuing her "show trial", even after her partner said he did not support it.

In response, the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Given the tragic circumstances, we will not comment on the specifics of this case at this stage."

Bail conditions had stopped Flack having any contact with Burton ahead of her trial.

Burton said in his post that he had not been allowed to be with her. His full post reads:

"My heart is broken we had something so special.

"I am so lost for words I am in so much pain I miss you so much I know you felt safe with me you always said I don't think about anything else when I am with you and I was not allowed to be there this time I kept asking and asking.

"I will be your voice baby I promise I will ask all the questions you wanted and I will get all the answers nothing will bring you back but I will try make you proud everyday.

"I love you with all my heart."

Tributes flood in

Flack had co-hosted The X Factor and won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, as well as presenting ITV's Love Island.

She stood down from the dating show after she was charged with assaulting her partner, tennis player Lewis Burton, in December.

Following her death, an ITV spokeswoman said Flack was a "much-loved member of the Love Island team".

Celebrities and ex-Love Island stars also paid tribute, describing her death as "heartbreaking".

Laura Whitmore, who took over presenting Love Island following Flack's arrest, said her friend was "vivacious, loving and had a passion for life, which is why none of this makes sense".

Fighting back tears in a tribute on her BBC Radio 5 Live Sunday morning show, she said Flack "loved to love, that's all she wanted, which is why a show like Love Island was important to her" and appealed to listeners to "be kind" to how they treat others.

"I want to use my platform, this platform, to call people out because it's gone too far. Your words affect people. To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard, enough," she said.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in a tweet that "we must do more as a society to look out for each other - whether online or off".


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Fellow ITV presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said they were "devastated" by the news.

Honey Lancaster-James, a TV psychologist who worked with celebrity contestants on an early series of Love Island, said it was important not to "point the finger of blame".

Anger was a natural response to death - particularly in tragic circumstances, she said, but people shouldn't speculate about what was in Flack's mind.

"There are often a number of factors, and a number of things that have led to a deterioration in mental health," she said, adding that she didn't know Caroline Flack personally.

Image copyright Caroline Flack / Instagram
Image caption Flack last posted a collage of images to her Instagram followers on Thursday

Many of those who paid tribute urged for greater kindness towards people going through difficult circumstances.

This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield wrote on Instagram: "You poor darling girl my heart is breaking #BeKind".

Kady McDermott, who featured in the show's second series, said: "Devastated to hear the news about Caroline Flack.

"Caroline was nothing but kind to me and that's how I will always remember her.

"Saddens me so much when people think the only way out is death. My prayers and thoughts go out to Caroline's friends and family."

Confirming that Saturday's episode of Love Island would not air, an ITV spokeswoman said: "Everybody at Love Island and ITV is shocked and saddened by this desperately sad news."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The presenter's family confirmed her death in a statement

Meanwhile, Strictly Come Dancing praised Flack's "infectious energy and passion for dance" in a statement on Twitter.

Flack won series 12 of the show in 2014.

"The entire Strictly Come Dancing family are heartbroken to hear this incredibly sad news," the tweet said.

Judge Bruno Tonioli said he could not believe the news, and praised Flack as "always so much fun to be around".

The show's co-presenters, Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly, both posted messages in tribute to Flack, with Winkleman saying her death was "heartbreaking".

Flack's friend Dawn O'Porter posted a string of messages on Twitter, saying: "At some point I will find my words, and I will write the tribute she deserves. My dear friend. I'm lost."

Flack's career: From children's TV to Chicago on stage

Many fans grew up with Flack following her breakthrough co-hosting Saturday morning show TMi with Sam and Mark on CBBC in 2007.

From there, she went on to front Gladiators on Sky One, ITV2's I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! spin-off and The Xtra Factor, before moving to The X Factor itself with Olly Murs in 2015.

She cemented her popular appeal when she won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 with partner Pasha Kovalev.

She is credited with making Love Island one of the biggest shows on British TV and was the one to pick up the award when it won the Bafta for best reality show in 2018.

The same year, Flack made her West End stage debut as Roxie Hart in Chicago and even appeared on the celebrity version of The Great British Bake Off.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Flack won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014

Assault charge

At the time of her death, Flack had been waiting to stand trial after she was charged with assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp.

She pleaded not guilty in December and was released on bail on the condition she did not contact Mr Burton.

Her solicitor made an application to have these bail conditions lifted, arguing they remained a couple and wanted to spend Christmas together.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Following her death, Flack's management company criticised the CPS for pursuing what it called her "show trial", even after her partner, Lewis Burton (pictured), said he did not support it

In a statement following her death, Flack's management company criticised the CPS for pressing ahead with the case.

Francis Ridley, of Money Talent Management, said: "In recent months Caroline had been under huge pressure because of an ongoing case and potential trial which has been well reported.

"The Crown Prosecution Service pursued this when they knew not only how very vulnerable Caroline was but also that the alleged victim did not support the prosecution and had disputed the CPS version of events.

"The CPS should look at themselves today and how they pursued a show trial that was not only without merit but not in the public interest. And ultimately resulted in significant distress to Caroline."

In response, the CPS said its "deepest sympathies go to the family and friends of Caroline Flack", but that it would "not comment on the specifics of this case at this stage".

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