‘It seems nothing has been learned from Leveson’: Inquiry into sex change teacher’s suicide critical of Daily Mail and Richard Littlejohn - Home News - UK - The Independent

‘It seems nothing has been learned from Leveson’: Inquiry into sex change teacher’s suicide critical of Daily Mail and Richard Littlejohn

 

Newspaper coverage of a transgender teacher who later killed herself was “sensational and salacious”, a coroner has said.

Nathan Upton, a teacher at St Mary Magdalen’s CofE Primary School in Accrington, Lancashire, was going through transition to become a woman before being found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in March. The school’s pupils were told last December that Mr Upton, 32, should be addressed as Miss Lucy Meadows.

Irate parents tipped off the media, parts of which reported the story, Blackburn and Hyndburn Coroner Michael Singleton said. The coroner said he would write to Culture Secretary Maria Miller recommending she implement the Leveson Report “to ensure that other people in the same position as Lucy Meadows are not faced with the same ill-informed bigotry as seems to be displayed in the case of Lucy”. “Unless action is taken it could leave to further fatality,” he warned.

Mr Singleton said he had been “appalled” by press interest in the case. The inquest heard that Lucy Meadows contacted the Press Complaints Commission in January complaining about harrassment and a Richard Littlejohn column published in the Daily Mail commenting on her gender transition. The coroner criticised the Daily Mail’s offer to remove the article from its website and delete photographs of Miss Meadow’s wedding to her former wife.“Having carried out what can only be described as a character assassination, having sought to ridicule and humiliate Lucy Meadows and bring into question her right to pursue her career as a teacher, the Daily Mail’s response was to offer to remove the article from the website. It seems to me that nothing has been learnt from the Leveson Inquiry,” Coroner Singleton said.

Miss Meadows’ estranged wife Ruth Smith said the press coverage of Lucy's operation had been an “intrusion” into both their lives. Miss Meadows’ body was discovered in Accrington in March. A number of letters from her were found nearby, one of which was addressed to the coroner.

In it she wrote: “It used to be that people asked me why, and say things like ‘You can’t do this’. Some people asked ‘Why you are still here’. I tried to do things the right way to make people more comfortable with it. I see only one path which is right for me.”

The letter mentioned her financial debts as well as the “overwhelming” support of “family, friends, colleagues and people from other countries”. She added: “I have simply had enough of living. I am not depressed or mentally ill in some way. I have no regrets other than leaving behind those dear to me and causing them pain in doing so, for which I am deeply sorry. I would like to thank everyone who had an impact on my life.”

Coroner Singleton said: “Lucy Meadows was not someone who had thrust herself into the public limelight. She was not a celebrity. She had done nothing wrong. Her only crime was to be different. Not by choice but by some trick of nature.Had it been in the note she left to me of any reference at all to the Press, I would have had no difficulty in summonsing various journalists and editors to this inquest to give evidence and be called into account, but Lucy Meadows rose above that.”

A Daily Mail spokesman said: “Richard Littlejohn’s column 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. Among the many reasons Ms Meadows gave for taking her actions, none blamed the press coverage.” Cause of death was recorded as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Primary Teachers needed in Winsford

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in...

Exam Invigilators needed in North Wales

£45 - £50 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Randstad Education are currentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week