Lancashire

Media criticised over transgender teacher Lucy Meadows' death

Vigil outside Daily Mail
Image caption Supporters of Lucy Meadows had a candlelit vigil outside the Daily Mail offices

A coroner has criticised the media over the "character assassination" of a transgender teacher who later took her own life.

An inquest heard Lucy Meadows hit the headlines after announcing her return to Mary Magdalen's Primary School in Accrington, Lancashire, as a woman.

Ms Meadows, 32, previously known as male teacher Nathan Upton, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in March.

Coroner Michael Singleton said media guidelines should be tightened.

Ms Meadows had complained to the Press Complaints Commission about harassment and an article in the Daily Mail by columnist Richard Littlejohn questioning her right to teach, the inquest in Blackburn was told.

'Sensationalist and salacious'

The inquest heard notes written before she died did not attribute her death to press intrusion but stated she had "simply had enough of living".

Mr Singleton, however, said he was appalled at the "sensationalist and salacious" media intrusion she had faced.

He said: "She had done nothing wrong. Her only crime was to be different - not by her own choice but by some trick of nature."

A vigil was held outside the Daily Mail offices by transgender campaigners following her death and more than 210,000 people went on to sign an online petition calling for an apology from the newspaper and the sacking of Mr Littlejohn.

The Mail has said there was no link between the article and Ms Meadows' death and that the article in fact defended the rights of people to have sex change operations.

Mr Singleton said he planned to write to MP Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to warn that "unless action is taken it could leave to further fatality".

He said: "I will be writing to the government to consider now implementing in full the recommendations of the Leveson Report in order to seek 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."

Addressing the media at the conclusion of the inquest he said: "And to you, the press, I say shame - shame on all of you."

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