Lucy Meadows vigil: Petition to sack Richard Littlejohn

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

Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for a Daily Mail columnist to be sacked after the death of a teacher in Lancashire.

Lucy Meadows, 32, was found dead at a house in Accrington, last week. It is claimed she was distressed by publicity about her gender transition.

The petition also calls for the newspaper to apologise over Richard Littlejohn's column.

The Mail said there was no link between the column and Ms Meadows' death.

Candelit vigil

Ms Meadows, who was born male, worked at St Mary Magdalen's Church of England Primary School in Accrington.

Mr Littlejohn's article made comments about her suitability to teach - although he said he did have some sympathy for people who were transgender.

But the article angered transgender campaigners, with some holding a candlelit vigil outside of The Daily Mail offices in London on Monday evening.

Ms Meadows' friend Michelle Burrows, who is also transgender, said: "I really don't see why people feel the need to humiliate someone... because of a perceived difference."

The petition has so far collected 37,198 signatures.

'Orchestrated twitterstorm'

Before the Christmas break, parents of children at St Mary Magdalen's were informed that teacher Nathan Upton would be coming back to work after the holiday as Lucy Meadows.

A Mail spokesman said Mr Littlejohn's column had "emphatically defended the rights of people to have sex change operations but echoed the parents' concerns about whether it was right for children to have to confront complex gender problems at such a vulnerable young age".

He described the campaign as an "orchestrated twitterstorm", adding that people "might do well to consider the words of media commentator Roy Greenslade".

In a recent blog post, Mr Greenslade wrote: "It is important to note that there is no clear link - indeed any link - between what Littlejohn wrote and the death of Lucy Meadows."

"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lucy Meadows," the Mail spokesman added.