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Teacher inquest coroner slams press

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A coroner says he will write to Culture Secretary Maria Miller over a transgender teacher featured in the press before her death

A coroner says he will write to Culture Secretary Maria Miller over a transgender teacher featured in the press before her death

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A coroner says he will write to Culture Secretary Maria Miller over a transgender teacher featured in the press before her death

A coroner has criticised "sensational and salacious" press coverage of a transgender teacher who later killed herself and urged the Government to implement the recommendations of the Leveson Report.

Nathan Upton, 32, went through a transition to live as a woman in the months before she was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in March.

A teacher at St Mary Magdalen's CofE Primary School in Accrington, Lancashire, pupils were told last December that Mr Upton should be addressed as Miss Lucy Meadows after the Christmas break.

Concerns from some parents were reported in the media with one father saying that his three sons at the school were "too young to be dealing with that". The story gained national headlines and comment when the news broke.

Blackburn and Hyndburn Coroner Michael Singleton launched a furious tirade against the press and said he would be writing to Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, under Rule 43 of the Coroners Rules, "that unless action is taken it could lead to further fatality".

He added: "I will be writing to the Government to consider now implementing in full the recommendations of the Leveson Report in order to seek to ensure that other people in the same position as Lucy Meadows are not faced with the same ill-informed bigotry as seems to be displayed in the case of Lucy."

Then concluding the inquest at Blackburn Register Office, he turned to reporters and said: "And to you the Press, I say shame. Shame on all of you."

Giving evidence, Mr Upton's wife Ruth Smith - also a teacher - said the couple had not divorced and they had a son but they agreed to live separate lives just before Christmas 2011. She said it was "an amicable split" and that the transgender issue was "not the deciding factor".

Ms Smith was asked what impact an article in the local press had on her which revealed her new identity as Miss Meadows at her local school. She replied: "She was more annoyed than anything, that there was an intrusion on her life and our life as well."

Ms Smith said that Miss Meadows went on to make two suicide attempts in February and March this year. She agreed with the coroner that she was "effectively rehearsing" to kill herself. Ms Smith said she had tried to talk her round, and had asked her the cause of her distress. She added: "She said there was not enough to keep her here."

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