A petition calling for curbs on the British media in the wake of the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack has been handed in to the government.
More than 850,000 people have signed up to support a so-called “Caroline’s Law”, which would make media bullying and harassment a criminal offence.
The petition was set up following Flack’s suicide last month.
It was delivered to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Tuesday morning.
Holly Maltby, of campaigning group 38 Degrees, said the media should be “held accountable for the way they harass and vilify people”.
“Politicians need to urgently step in and make sure there are consequences when the media bully and harass,” she added.
At the time of her death, Love Island presenter Flack was under media scrutiny as she awaited trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend.
In an unpublished Instagram post written shortly before her death, the 40-year-old said: “The truth has been taken out of my hands and used as entertainment.”
The majority of newspapers and magazines in the UK are currently regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) under a set of rules called the Editors’ Code of Practice.
Communication watchdog Ofcom regulates television and radio broadcasters, including the BBC, and is to be given new powers over social media firms.
Maltby said celebrities weren’t the only people experiencing harassment from the press.
“It’s people up and down the country, whose lives can be completely torn apart in a moment, because of harassment, intimidation and bullying, often at very difficult times,” she said as she delivered the petition.
“We’re gathering those case studies every day now, of people who said regulators need to be doing more, and the government need to be doing more.”
Information and support
If you or someone you know needs support for issues about emotional distress, these organisations may be able to help.