Protest outside Daily Mail offices after Lucy Meadows death

By staff

The Daily Mail faced a protest by transgender activists yesterday, as pressure built on the newspaper to dump one of its most popular columnists over the death of Lucy Meadows.

There is no evidence linking a critical column by commentator Richard Littlejohn with the death of the teacher, who is thought to have taken her own life, but his was the most high profile attack on her school position amid a media frenzy which is now thought to have made her life unbearable.

Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the columnist to be fired.

"We are tired of the media whipping up controversy and destroying lives simply to sell more papers," said Kaytee Riek, campaign manager

"Richard Littlejohn crossed a line he shouldn't have been anywhere near when he attacked Lucy, and he needs to be held accountable.

"However, the Daily Mail holds ultimate responsibility for what it prints, and must reform itself to ensure no other lives are ruined by what it publishes."

Meadows was raised male but recently underwent the transition to become female, leading the school she worked at to send a letter to parents alerting them to the new identity of one of their children's teachers.

Littlejohn wrote a column attacking the school and suggesting Meadows should have gone to work at a different institution so she would not upset or confuse her pupils.

"He's not only in the wrong body… he's in the wrong job," the column stated.

Meadow's life was reportedly reduced to misery as newspapers phoned friends trying to get pictures of her. Email correspondence suggests she had to go to work early and leave late to avoid media harassment.

The row comes at a particularly damaging time, as the press considers whether it will join a watchdog established by royal charter to monitor its behaviour.

Anti-Leveson campaigners have frequently pointed out that the phone-hacking which triggered the inquiry was already illegal, but the Meadows case points to a broader argument for press regulation, because it was legal coverage which some say constituted harassment.

Transgender campaigners gather outside the Daily Mail offices at 18:30 yesterday for the candle-lit vigil.

Although some sections of the demonstration chanted "shame on you" at the people working inside, they were silenced by the majority of the crowd, who wanted a quiet vigil.