Darryn Lyons

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Darryn Lyons
Mayor of Geelong
In office
26 November 2013 – 16 April 2016
DeputyBruce Harwood
Michelle Heagney
Preceded byKeith Fagg
Succeeded byBruce Harwood
Personal details
Born (1965-08-19) 19 August 1965 (age 57)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLiberal (until 2018)
EducationGeelong East Technical School
OccupationPaparazzo, entrepreneur, mayor, celebrity

Darryn Lyons (born 19 August 1965) is an Australian media personality, entrepreneur and politician, who rose to prominence in Australia and the United Kingdom as a paparazzo. He held the position of Mayor of Geelong from 2013 to 2016.

Early life[edit]

Born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia on 19 August 1965, Lyons grew up the youngest of three children in the suburb of Herne Hill, and later Leopold.[1] His father was an architect and the choirmaster of the Aberdeen Street Baptist Church, and designed the family's "cathedral-like" house.[2] Lyons's passion for photography started at a young age, and he attended Geelong East Technical School, where he was regularly dux of school.[3]

Photography career[edit]

After completing his schooling, Lyons began work as a professional photographer at the Geelong News and Geelong Advertiser. At the age of 22, he moved to London, where he gained a job at the News of the World after a chance meeting with Rupert Murdoch. Two years later, he left to take a position with the Daily Mail, for whom he provided coverage of the Bosnian War.[4]

In 1993, Lyons founded the picture company Big Pictures, which supplied paparazzi-style photography for news organisations. Big Pictures was run by his wife Melanie Lyons and Kevin Anstey, while Lyons worked as a photographer for the Daily Mail newspaper. During 1996, Darryn Lyons left the Daily Mail to work full-time at Big Pictures alongside Melanie Lyons.

He gained widespread media attention when his company sold a photograph to the News of the World, which was used to support a claim that football star David Beckham was having an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos.[5]

On the night of the fatal car crash involving Princess Diana in 1997, Big Pictures received photographs from its Paris agent Laurent Sola of Diana's final moments. Lyons still own these photos which have never been published, and has stated that he never would sell them. Lyons gave evidence at the 2007 inquest into Diana's death.[6]

The company often faced legal action relating to invasion of privacy and harassment, from celebrities including Sienna Miller,[7] Lily Allen,[8] JK Rowling,[9] Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.[10]

Big Pictures also ran a Mr Paparazzi website and YouTube channel from 2007 to 2013, featuring celebrity news, photos and videos[11]

In 2012, Big Pictures was placed into administration after facing financial difficulties, with all staff members of the company being made redundant.[12] Lyons subsequently established the Mr Paparazzi Celebrity Deals company and became a shareholder of another firm called BPGG Limited, facilitating the purchase of Big Pictures' assets for £164,000.[13] Big Pictures went into liquidation in 2013, owing more than £82,000 to photographers and picture agencies.[14]

In 2013, Lyons announced plans to launch an online celebrity stock photographic agency called Celebstock, however these plans did not eventuate.[15]

Media personality[edit]

Lyons has frequently appeared on radio and television programmes, including the Sky News Sunrise programme, LK Today, Australian radio shows Kyle and Jackie O Show and Hughsey and Kate, and a role as a weekly commentator on ITV1's Alan Titchmarsh Show. Lyons has also written for the Geelong Advertiser newspaper and NW magazine.[16]

He was one of the five venture capitalists on the 2005 Australian version of the reality television programme Dragons' Den, which ended after one season after poor ratings.[17]

In 2007, Lyons appeared on the British reality television shows Tycoon,[18] and Deadline, as a picture editor and camera instructor. Lyons also appeared on the British panel show Through the Keyhole.

In 2011, he appeared in the British Top Gear television show, representing Australia in a double-decker car race in the theme of The Ashes.[19]

He also became a housemate in the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5, entering the house in August 2011. Within a few days of entering the Big Brother house, Lyons unveiled his cosmetic "six-pack", which caused a high volume of media coverage for being a "sculpted six pack seemingly implanted atop his generous gut".[20] He finished in sixth place.

In 2012, Lyons was a contestant in the Australian show Excess Baggage. The show was transferred to digital channel GO! shortly after its premiere due to poor ratings. Following the show's completion, it was deemed a failure, with numerous people identifying the contestants as the reason for the lack of success.[21]

Mayor of Geelong[edit]

In 2013, Lyons announced his candidacy for the City of Greater Geelong 2013 mayoral election. At the start of the election he was quoted as saying "As I have learnt from my time in the UK every election needs a comedy candidate and also as I've seen from Tony Abbott's example the electorate respects a man with great abs".[22] Despite this he then campaigned heavily for the position with a "presidential-style mayoral campaign", including having a plane tow a banner across the sky in the city.[3] He was declared elected after the distribution of preferences on 25 November 2013; Lyons garnered almost 30 per cent of the first preference votes, more than double the primary votes than the second-placed candidate.[23] Lyons was sworn into office on 26 November 2013.[24]

As mayor, Lyons has focussed on lobbying for the city, creating publicity and lifting the city's profile to attract tourism and investment.[25]

Lyons has advocated for building a cruise ship pier on the Geelong waterfront to boost the city's economy with tourism.[26] The pier would also incorporate a convention centre and cultural centre.

Other initiatives introduced by Lyons include improving the city centre by making street parking free on weekends and planting plants in the streets.[27]

On 16 April 2016,[28] the Victorian Government dismissed Lyons along with the rest of the Greater Geelong City Council,[29] following a Commission of Inquiry which found that the council was riven with conflict, unable to manage Geelong's economic challenges, had dysfunctional leadership and had a culture of bullying.[30] The government appointed administrators to run the council until council elections were held on 27 October 2017.[31]

Lyons ran as an Independent candidate in the 2018 Victorian state election but was unsuccessful.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Lyons resides in the Western Beach area of Geelong. His fiancée was Elissa Friday, a former model and a student who now lists herself as single on her Instagram account. He was formerly married to Melanie Whitehead, who left him in 2000.[33] Lyons is a personal friend of former Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle, who supported Lyons during his 2013 electoral campaign.[3] Lyons has acknowledged drug abuse, binge drinking and heavy gambling during his life abroad.[34]

On 9 March 2023 the UK First-tier Tribunal dismissed an appeal by Lyons against an assessment to capital gains tax of £1,087,413.68 in respect of the sale of various UK properties during the tax year 2012-2013 issued by HMRC.[35]


  1. ^ "Darryn Lyons". 93.9 Bay FM. Grant Broadcasters Digital & New Media. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Caught on camera: Darryn Lyons' London home". The Independent. London. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Squires, Mandy (1 December 2013). "Meet Geelong's new mayor, Darryn Lyons". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Geelong boy comes to the party". The Age. 17 April 2004. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  5. ^ ""Geelong snapper who took a bite of Beckham's image". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 April 2004. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  6. ^ Lawson, Valerie (29 February 2008). "Geelong photographer to give evidence at Diana inquest". The Age. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  7. ^ Sweney, Mark (22 November 2008). "Sienna Miller settles with Big Pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  8. ^ Dowell, Ben (17 March 2009). "Lily Allen given legal protection from paparazzi harassment". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  9. ^ Dyer, Clare (8 March 2008). "JK Rowling wins ban on photos of her son". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ Adams, Stephen (15 May 2008). "Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant get £58,000 damages over photographs". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  11. ^ "About Us". Mr Paparazzi. Archived from the original on 25 August 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  12. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (5 October 2012). "Big Pictures paparazzi agency goes into administration after 20 years". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Darryn Lyons buys Big Pictures assets for £164k".
  14. ^ Halliday, Josh (17 January 2013). "Big Pictures goes into liquidation". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  15. ^ Dundas, Greg (12 June 2014). "Mayor silent on pay row". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Darryn Lyons". Celeb Agents. Touchstone Media Group. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Darryn Lyons - Mr Paparazzi". ICMI. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  18. ^ Weaver, Iain. "Weaver's Week 2007-07-08". UKGameshows. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  19. ^ "The Ashes Part 1: Double Decker Race - Top Gear Series 16 Episode 2 - BBC Two". YouTube. 1 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Big Brother celeb mocked over fake abs". ninemsn. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  21. ^ Colin Vickery (21 March 2012). "Lessons we learned from Excess Baggage". News.com.au. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Old school ties and six packs". The Age. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  23. ^ Dow, Alisha (25 November 2013). "Entrepreneur Darryn Lyons declared Geelong mayor". The Age. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Councillors". City of Greater Geelong. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  25. ^ Paul, Margaret (3 March 2014). "Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons makes long list for world mayor competition". ABC News. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  26. ^ Best, Cameron (26 February 2014). "Geelong ups ante for new cruise ship pier to boost tourism jobs". ABC News. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  27. ^ Squires, Mandy (22 November 2014). "Addy reader survey: Community split over Darryn Lyons' performance as mayor". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  28. ^ Local Government (Greater Geelong City Council) Act 2016 (Vic) s 2
  29. ^ "Dismissal of Greater Geelong City Council". Premier of Victoria. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  30. ^ "Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Greater Geelong City Council". State Government of Victoria. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  31. ^ "Geelong Council officially sacked, elections to be held in 2017, as bill passes Parliament". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 April 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  32. ^ "Victorian Election 2018 guide - Australian Broadcasting Corporation". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 November 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  33. ^ "The Emperor of Geelong". Good Weekend. The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  34. ^ Masanauskas, John (26 November 2013). "Mohawk Mayor of Geelong Darryn Lyons admits he abused drugs but vows to revitalise the town". Herald Sun. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  35. ^ Lyons v Revenue and Customs (Residence of an individual - application of Gaines-Cooper and common law principles) [2023] UKFTT 294 (TC), 9 March 2023, retrieved 22 March 2023

External links[edit]