In Brief

Coroner condemns press after suicide of Lucy Meadows

Mail and Littlejohn attacked as coroner argues 'nothing has been learned from Leveson'

littlejohn-dailymail01.jpg

A CORONER has accused the British press of "ill-informed bigotry" and "character assassination" at the inquest into the death of transgender schoolteacher Lucy Meadows, who killed herself earlier this year after hitting the headlines for undergoing a sex-change operation. After returning a verdict of suicide yesterday in Blackburn, Coroner Michael Singleton turned to reporters and said: "To you the press, I say shame. Shame on all of you." Meadows, who was formerly known as Nathan Upton, killed herself in March after returning to work at a primary school in Accrington as a woman following gender realignment surgery. Her case had been picked up by the media in late 2012 and, as the BBC reports, Meadows had complained to the Press Complaints Commission about harassment. She was particularly upset by an article in the Daily Mail written by columnist Richard Littlejohn last December, in which he questioned her right to teach. The coroner accused the Mail of condemning Meadows to "ridicule and humiliation" and added that Meadows had been the victim of "sensational and salacious" reporting. "It seems to me that nothing has been learnt from the Leveson Inquiry," Singleton said. He added that he would be writing to Culture Secretary Maria Miller urging her to implement the recommendations of Lord Leveson's report. "Lucy Meadows was not somebody who had thrust herself into the public limelight," Singleton went on. "She was not a celebrity and she did nothing wrong. Her only crime was to be different, not by choice, but by some trick of nature." Meadows's suicide note made no mention of the media coverage. If it had done, said Singleton, he would have summoned "various journalists and editors to this inquest to give evidence and be called into account". In a statement, the Daily Mail insisted that Littlejohn's article "emphatically defended the rights of people to have sex change operations but echoed some parents' concerns about whether it was right for children to have to confront such complex gender problems at such a vulnerable young age".

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