Daily Mail admits in headline that charities were not to blame for Olive Cooke's death

20 Jul 2015 News

The Daily Mail has for the first time carried a headline saying that charities were not to blame for Olive Cooke's death, two months after the family first said this was the case.

The Daily Mail has for the first time carried a headline saying that charities were not to blame for Olive Cooke's death, two months after the family first said this was the case.

The Daily Mail story appeared after Jessica Dunne, the granddaughter of Olive Cooke, used an appearance on ITV’s This Morning to exonerate the charity sector, saying the “family do not blame charities” for her death.

Cooke committed suicide at the age of 92, shortly after giving an interview to her local newspaper in which she said she had received more than 260 pieces of direct mail in a single month from charities.

As a result the Daily Mail launched a campaign to force the government to clamp down on fundraising, beginning with a front-page article claiming she had been "hounded to death" by fundraisers.

The paper called for an "Olive's Law" to protect the elderly, launched two investigations into fundraising, carried personal attacks on fundraising directors at the UK's largest charities.

It eventually declared victory over cold-callers after David Cameron announced that new legislation would require charities to report the number of complaints they receive.

Speaking on the programme to Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes today, Dunne said that the newspaper-driven narrative that “cold-calling charities” had been responsible for Cooke’s death was simply untrue.

"I don't want my nan to be remembered as a victim. These stories that she was ‘killed by kindness’ is just not true. She was a very courageous, strong, determined woman, who had a real sense of justice.

"I want to make it quite clear that the family, in no way, feel that charities: cold-calling, mailing, those sorts of things, were responsible."

While Dunne did admit that Cooke had received “a lot [of direct mail fundraising] they were a nuisance certainly, an irritation”, she said that “in the grand scheme of things [they weren't to blame]”.

Dunne instead suggested that Cooke was suffering from loneliness and depression. Dunne said the family wished to highlight the issue of isolation amongst older people.

Olive Cooke’s death became front-page news in May when she jumped to her death from the Avon Gorge in Bristol. An interview she gave to the Bristol Post shortly before her death - in which Cooke said she “could not say no” to fundraisers - was used by tabloids such as the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror to accuse charity fundraisers of “hounding” the 92-year-old to her death.

Cooke's death was even mentioned in parliament, where Chris Grayling, leader of the House of Commons, accused fundraisers of "wholly irresponsible behaviour"

Last week an inquest found that the 92-year-old had committed suicide. In a suicide note presented to the inquiry, Cooke wrote that she suffered from insomnia. Nothing about charities was mentioned during the inquest. 

 

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