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Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Mail And Lucy Meadows – As Predicted

Very few media outlets have reported the remarks by coroner Michael Singleton at the inquest into the death of transgender teacher Lucy Meadows: apart from the deeply subversive Guardian, just the HuffPost UK and the BBC have articles on yesterday’s events. And then there has been a piece in the Mail, alone among the mass-market tabloids. Oh what a giveaway!
What's f***ing wrong with being selective, c***?!?

And as I predicted yesterday, the principal thrust of the Mail copy is to excuse its previous behaviour. After starting with “A coroner yesterday criticised Press coverage of how primary school children were told their male teacher was returning to school as a woman”, the defensive mood soon enters, using Ms Meadows’ suicide note, which does not specifically name any paper, as a get-out clause.

There is also deflection, by citing one parent at the school where Ms Meadows taught “saying his three sons at the school were ‘too young to be dealing with that’”. The parent concerned should know that, when the press turn up to quiz him, the Mail will claim it’s nothing to do with them. The legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is only interested in selling his vision. Collateral damage is someone else’s problem.
What editor and pundit will never live down

The Mail article does mention the hatchet job executed by Richard Littlejohn, and that Ms Meadows complained to the PCC about it, but, as ever, the recollection of Dacre’s obedient hacks is partial in the extreme. That there was a resolution to the complaint is not the point: it took the Mail well over two months just to offer to remove the online version of the offending column.

Whether the Littlejohn article was actually removed before Ms Meadows was found dead is unclear: it would have been a mightily close-run thing. And the idea that the Mail bears no responsibility for what happened to Lucy Meadows is not shared by the coroner – not that the Mail is telling its readers anything about that. Michael Singleton has written what is called a Rule 43 letter to the Culture Secretary.

What that? Here’s the wording: “Where ... a coroner is holding an inquest into a person’s death ... the evidence gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future; and ... in the coroner’s opinion, action should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances ... the coroner may report the circumstances to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action”.

Singleton has obviously concluded that the actions of the press could result in a repeat of the Lucy Meadows tragedy further down the line, and considers the matter to be serious enough to notify the relevant Government minister.

He means you, Paul Dacre. What you will not read in the Daily Mail any time soon.

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