A coroner’s report into the death of Britain’s oldest poppy seller, Olive Cooke, has rejected claims that she was driven to suicide by aggressive charity marketing, after it emerged she had suffered from depression for years.
Cooke’s death – on May 6 – triggered a huge backlash against the sector after her family said she had been “overwhelmed” with direct mail appeals.
It led to calls for a so-called “Olive’s Law”, which has now been added to the Charities Bill, meaning charities will now be forced by law to sign agreements to stop aggressive fundraising.
However, while many more reports of aggressive fundraising have emerged since Cooke’s death – and the Fundraising Standards Board has branded the sector out of control – it was not responsible for her taking her own life.
Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner said: “Mrs Cooke was a lady who had suffered with low mood and depression for a number of years and there had been a significant attempt to take her own life as long ago as 1999.
“From 2014, she was suffering both from low mood and sleeplessness and continued suicide feelings. I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the proper conclusion in this instance is one of suicide.”
Media coverage of the inquest has been low key to say the least.
The Daily Mail, however, which has been going into overdrive to uncover rogue charity marketing since Cooke’s death, could not help but continue to link the two – despite the ruling to the contrary.
It stated: “Mrs Cooke’s death came after she had received thousands of phone calls and letters from charities asking her for money, prompting an outcry about aggressive fundraising tactics.”
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