View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
March 26, 2013

PCC: Julie Burchill ‘rant’ against transsexuals was not in breach of Editors’ Code

By William Turvill

The Press Complaints Commission has decided that an Observer column, described as a “disgusting” rant by an MP, was not in breach of the Editors’ Code of practice.

The PCC has not issued an adjudication and said only that the piece was not in breach of the Editors' Code.

The body received 800 complaints on the Julie Burchill column, which was taken off the website after it was published in January.

At the time, editor John Mulholland told readers: “On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece.”

Despite the various complaints not being upheld by the PCC an internal Observer inquiry in January found that the article had broken the newspaper’s own code.

Readers’ editor Stephen Pritchard revealed that he had received more than 1,000 emails in addition to nearly 3,000 comments online – “most of them highly critical” – about the article within 24 hours.

Following the publication, more than 100 transgender people held a “peaceful” vigil outside The Guardian and Observer offices.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

Burchill’s piece was originally penned in defence of fellow writer, Suzanne Moore, who came under fire on Twitter after suggesting in the New Statesman that women were expected to look like "a Brazilian transsexuals". 


Burchill wrote that "screaming mimis" had accused her friend of "white feminist privilege" and forced her to leave the social networking site.


Former Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said the Burchill piece was “absolutely disgusting” and “a bigoted vomit” – and calling for Burchill and Mulholland to be sacked.

After being taken down from, Telegraph blogger Toby Young republished the article.

Topics in this article : , ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network