Lucy Meadows sought advice about how to deal with press intrusion before taking her own life, it has been revealed.
The transgender teacher, who died in March, contacted charity Trans Media Watch through an intermediary after a media storm erupted when she returned to work in a primary school following her sex change.
Last week, a coroner attacked the “sensational and salacious” press coverage of the story. He said a Richard Littlejohn column in the Daily Mail amounted to “a character assassination”.
The Mail has defended the article and pointed out that Meadows, in a suicide note read by the coroner, did not blame press coverage for her decision to take her own life.
But writing in Press Gazette, Jennie Kermode, chair of Trans Media Watch, said that Meadows’ distress at her treatment by the press “is a matter of public record”. Besides making a complaint to the PCC, she also asked for advice from Trans Media Watch following the publication of Littlejohn’s column.
Kermode said that the coroner based his comments on that correspondence along with Meadows’ suicide note.
Kermode wrote: “The coroner’s conclusions were based on multiple sources of information, as is usually the case – and as any newspaper editor would expect.” She added that “whether or not press attacks on Lucy directly contributed to her death, they were cruel, unnecessary and – yes – shameful.”
However, Mick Hume, editor of Spiked, has argued that "there was no real evidence to suggest that the press coverage of Ms Meadows’ gender change drove her to her death" and criticised the coroner for making the connection.
Also writing in Press Gazette, Hume said: "The Mail did not make false factual allegations of serious offences against Ms Meadows, as newspapers did against the McCanns or Christopher Jefferies. Littlejohn simply expressed his opinion about the transgender teacher returning to the same school.
"That opinion may have offended many but it was not an offence. Yet the expression of opinions deemed outside the respectable mainstream is now apparently considered a suitable case for punitive action by the Government and the courts."