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Points of Order

Volume 560: debated on Monday 25 March 2013

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May 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 death is not yet clear and we await the coroner’s report, but the police have said that there are no suspicious circumstances. Miss Meadows apparently complained to the press about their harassment—about them being camped outside her house, their attempts to pay parents to obtain photographs of her, and, failing that, downloading photographs from her family’s Facebook pages. To be on the receiving end of such behaviour must have been tortuous for her. An online petition against the actions of the Daily Mail has now received in excess of 110,000 signatures in just two days. The Press Complaints Commission failed her and is widely considered to be discredited. Therefore, can you, Mr Speaker, advise MPs on how complaints can and should be taken forward in such cases?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for notice of his point of order, and I am sure that I speak for the whole House in expressing our sorrow at his constituent’s tragic death. I hope he will also appreciate that I am not familiar with the details of this case and that it would be wrong for me to comment on it. Suffice it to say that abuse and vilification of the kind he describes are despicable and intolerable in a civilised society. It is not, however, clear to me that there is a point of order here for the Chair to address. Nor is it obvious to me that it is for me to advise him on how he and other right hon. and hon. Members should proceed in these circumstances. Suffice it to say that he has aired the matter today. The facilities of the Table Office and the Order Paper are open to him, and if, as more information emerges or his interest is extended, he wishes to bring these matters to the House’s attention, he can be sure of having the opportunity to do so.