Yesterday I raised a point of order in the Commons regarding the tragic death of my constituent Lucy Meadows. Lucy was by all accounts a dedicated teacher who was passionate about learning and wanted nothing but the best for her pupils.
The press first became interested in Lucy as a result of a newsletter from the school she worked at informing parents of her surgery being made public. Where some saw a charming example of a school trying to deal with an unusual situation in a compassionate way, the Daily Mail and others in the press saw something shameful and unacceptable.
Projecting their prejudices onto this story, and the manner in which information on Lucy was sought by the papers put an enormous amount of pressure on this vulnerable individual – regardless of whether or not it played any role in her death.
I am still left without any good reason explaining what my constituent did to deserve this level of intrusion into her life. The criticism of her was over-the-top moralising which didn’t even attempt to address in detail any of the things it claimed to be concerned about.
The Speaker listened to my point of order and offered a full and considered response, describing the behaviour of the press towards a constituent of mine as despicable. I agree with him.
Here is the transcript of my point of order:
Mr Speaker, on a point of order, can I seek your advice on the tragic death of my constituent Lucy Meadows, a transgender teacher who was vilified by the Daily Mail and other newspapers. The cause of her death is not yet clear and we await the coroner’s report, but the Police have said that there are no suspicious circumstances.
Ms Meadows apparently complained to Press about their harassment, about them being camped outside her house, about attempts to pay parents to get a photograph of her and failing that downloading photos from her Facebook page. To be on the receiving end of behaviour like this must have been tortuous. An online petition against the actions of the Daily Mail has now received over 180,000 signatures in just three days.
The Press Complaints commission is widely considered to be discredited, therefore can you advise MP’s on how complaints can and should be taken forward?
Last night I went to vigil outsduie the Daily Mail offices attended by 300 people. With 180,000 signatures it is clear that once teh coroners report is released there is likely to be a 3 hour backbench debate on the issue on the floor of the Commons.