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Richard Littlejohn

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Richard Littlejohn
Born (1954-01-18) 18 January 1954 (age 67)
Ilford, Essex, England
NationalityBritish
OccupationJournalist
EmployerDMG Media
Spouse(s)
Wendy A. Bosworth
(m. 1974)

Richard Littlejohn (born 18 January 1954) is an English author, broadcaster and journalist. He writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Mail.

Littlejohn has been a columnist for The Sun and has written for The Spectator and the London Evening Standard. Littlejohn earned a place in the inaugural Press Gazette Newspaper Hall of Fame[1] as one of the most influential journalists of the past 40 years.[2] He was awarded the title of "Columnist of the Year" at the 1997 British Press Awards.[3]

He has been criticised for insufficient fact checking[4][5] and for alleged homophobia.[6] Primarily a newspaper journalist, Littlejohn has also presented numerous radio and television shows and has authored or co-authored several books.

Early life[edit]

Littlejohn was born in Ilford, Essex in 1954.[7] His family moved to Peterborough when he was five.[3] His father worked as a policeman and later as a manager for British Rail.[7] Littlejohn attended West Town Primary School where he passed the eleven-plus, obtaining the highest marks in his year.[7][8] He was offered a public school scholarship which he turned down because the school did not play football, and subsequently attended Deacons Grammar School.[9][10][8]

Journalism[edit]

At 16, Littlejohn found employment as a trainee journalist in Peterborough. He worked for local newspapers during the early 1970s.[3] In the mid-1970s, he joined the Birmingham Evening Mail as an industrial correspondent.[9][11]

He worked at the London newspaper the Evening Standard from 1979 to 1989, initially as industrial editor, later a feature writer, then in 1988 as a columnist.[3] While industrial editor in the early 1980s he was asked to stand as a Labour Party candidate, which he declined.[12][better source needed] In 1989, he joined The Sun as a columnist,[13] which attracted controversy, and he was voted "Irritant of the Year" at the 1992 What The Papers Say Awards.[3]

In March 1993 he gave his support to the "Save the New Statesman fund" to raise cash to contest libel suits served on the magazine by the then Prime Minister John Major and caterer Claire Latimer.[14]

In 1994, he left The Sun to write for the Daily Mail,[13] contributing columns on news and current affairs (in a similar format to his Sun column), and one on sport. His Mail columns earned him the title "Columnist of the Year" at the 1997 British Press Awards.[3]

In February 1998, Littlejohn became the UK's best-paid columnist when he returned to The Sun to write a twice-weekly column as part of a £1million deal, which also included presenting for BSkyB.[15]

In addition to regular columns, Littlejohn has contributed articles to The Spectator[7] and Punch.[11]

One of Littlejohn's Sun columns – a 2004 skit, entitled "Rum, Sodomy and the Lifejacket", in which Lord Nelson is confronted with political correctness, compensation culture and the nanny state – has been published in newspapers, magazines, and websites with Littlejohn's writing credit removed.[16]

In 2004, the Diary column of The Guardian newspaper documented the results of a "Littlejohn audit"[17]—a count of the number of references Littlejohn makes to homosexuality in his columns. Marina Hyde of The Guardian wrote in 2004:

In the past year's Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to 'homophobia' and six to being "homophobic" (note his inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to "gay sex in public toilets", three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns – an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions.[17]

In May 2005, the Mail announced that he was rejoining the paper in a move that Mail editor Paul Dacre described as "returning to his spiritual home".[18][19] The Sun sought an injunction to prevent Littlejohn writing for the Mail before his existing contract with them ended in February 2006, but the matter was later settled out of court and Littlejohn began writing for the Mail in December 2005.[13]

In December 2010, Littlejohn satirised[20] an incident in which a 20-year-old man with cerebral palsy, Jody McIntyre, complained of mistreatment by police at a protest. Littlejohn argued that the young man involved should not have attended the protest, and compared him to Andy Pipkin from Little Britain.[20][21] This prompted 500 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission.[21]

In December 2012, the Daily Mail published an apology following a piece written by Littlejohn which suggested that ethnic minority staff had got their jobs through discrimination and had threatened to sue the Equality and Human Rights Commissions. The Daily Mail agreed with the Press Complaints Council to publish an apology and clarification.[22]

Asian hopscotch lessons[edit]

In February 2011, Littlejohn wrote in his Daily Mail column that Haringey Council was using taxpayer funds for hopscotch lessons for Asian women. This was an urban myth first propagated in 1995 by the former Conservative Party chairman Brian Mawhinney, who took the name of the Hopscotch Asian Women's Centre literally. The centre offers "support services for Asian women and their families on a wide range of issues including domestic violence, benefits, housing, education, immigration and health matters [and provided] advocacy and support to people with learning disabilities".[4]

Lucy Meadows[edit]

In December 2012, Littlejohn wrote an article criticising the decision of Accrington teacher Lucy Meadows to return to the same school after undergoing Gender Reassignment Surgery. Littlejohn repeatedly misgendered Meadows and stated: "he's not only trapped in the wrong body, he's in the wrong job".[23]

In March 2013, Meadows was found dead with police reporting no suspicious circumstance, suggesting suicide.[24] Littlejohn's article was later removed from the Daily Mail's website following Meadows' death.[23] Trans Media Watch, a charity for transgender people, said: "We are deeply saddened that this inquest should ever have been needed."[25] A petition drive was launched demanding Littlejohn be sacked.[23][26][27][28][29] Two petitions signed by over 240,000 people were handed over to the Daily Mail offices.[30]

At the inquest into her death on 28 May 2013, it was reported Meadows had contacted the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) over press harassment citing Littlejohn.[31] Blackburn and Hyndburn Coroner Michael Singleton stated that press coverage of her gender reassignment was "ill informed bigotry" and that Littlejohn in his article had "carried out what can only be described as a character assassination, having sought to ridicule and humiliate Lucy Meadows and bring into question her right to pursue her career as a teacher".[32]

Jack Monroe[edit]

In 2013, Littlejohn was accused[5] of taking insufficient care to check the facts before publishing an article critical of cookery writer and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe. Littlejohn suggested that Monroe chose to give up her job. Monroe's young son was unsettled with a range of different carers. As Monroe had grown up in a home with foster children, she is aware of the potential for harming him. Monroe tried unsuccessfully to negotiate flexible hours so she could work and look after her baby, but gave up her job so she could look after the child better.[33] Littlejohn incorrectly suggested that Monroe was an unemployed welfare claimant.[34]

Tom Daley[edit]

On 15 February 2018, Littlejohn, writing for his Daily Mail column, focused on the news that Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black were expecting their first child. Littlejohn stated that while he supported fostered children being brought up by loving, gay partners, as opposed to living in state institutions, he nonetheless adhered to his belief that children "benefit most from being raised by a man and a woman". He also criticised that in many cases of male gay relationships, Daley and Black included, women were being seen as "mere breeding machines" (their baby's surrogate mother not having been identified) and that offspring were shown off like "commodities".

Littlejohn was accused [35][36] of homophobia. As a result, Center Parcs announced its decision to cease publication of its advertisements in the Daily Mail, with a number of other businesses also reviewing their decision to advertise in the newspaper.[6][37]

Radio[edit]

By the end of the 1980s, Littlejohn was known in London for his Evening Standard columns, and was invited on to radio programmes as a pundit. From 1991, he worked for the London radio station LBC, beginning with a regular opinion spot. LBC later gave Littlejohn an early afternoon show, Littlejohn's Long Lunch; the programme was a talk show featuring topical discussion, phone-ins, and guests. He later became permanent presenter of the morning show, replacing Michael Parkinson.[11]

During his time at LBC, Littlejohn was censured by the Radio Authority for breaching broadcasting rules. This culminated in the Radio Authority stating that he "had broken half-a-dozen rules and had incited violence"[38] due to an edition of his phone-in show in which he suggested the police should have used flamethrowers against a group of "militant homosexuals" protesting outside the House of Commons.[38]

On another LBC phone-in he was censured by the Radio Authority for describing the Royal Family as a "bunch of tax-evading adulterers".[39]

He also deputised for Jimmy Young on BBC Radio 2[40] and hosted football phone-ins on BBC Radio 5 Live.[41]

Television[edit]

After leaving LBC in 1994, Littlejohn was approached by BSkyB managing director (and former Sun editor) Kelvin MacKenzie, and was offered the chance to present a nightly current affairs show on the TV channel Sky News. Called Richard Littlejohn, the show ran for one year, but was not a success. Littlejohn expressed his disappointment, claiming that broadcasting regulations would not permit him to present the show in the style of Rush Limbaugh's programmes: "If Sky News could emulate its US sister Fox News... ratings would soon shoot past the Astra satellite. But the regulators won't allow it."[38][42]

Later in 1994, Trevor Phillips of London Weekend Television hired Littlejohn to host a studio-based talk show entitled Richard Littlejohn Live And Uncut.[43] Phillips produced three series of the programme, which was transmitted only in the London area.

On Littlejohn's show of 8 July 1994, he was critical of two lesbians, one of whom was Linda Bellos. The film director Michael Winner, a guest on the show, attacked Littlejohn for his views and told him that the two women "have come across with considerable dignity and you have come across as an arsehole".[44]

Littlejohn hosted the first series of Channel 4's game show Wanted, as a stand-in for Bob Mills.[45] Wanted aired in October 1996 and won a Silver Rose at the Festival Rose d'Or.[46] As part of a 1997 deal, which saw him return to The Sun, Littlejohn hosted a nightly talk show on Sky One called Littlejohn: Live And Unleashed.[47]

In early 2003, he returned to Sky News to present Littlejohn, a live talk show initially broadcast twice weekly but later extended to four nights per week. The programme was dropped on 8 July 2004 when Sky News changed format and replaced it with regular rolling news.[48]

On 9 July 2007, Channel 4 showed a documentary entitled The War on Britain's Jews?, written and narrated by Littlejohn.[49] Littlejohn has also appeared on BBC One's Question Time[50] and Have I Got News for You.[51]

Books[edit]

Littlejohn has authored or co-authored:

  • The Essex Girl Joke Book (1991, Corgi Publishing) – a collection of Essex girl jokes, co-written (with "Brent Wood" {Mitchell Symons}) under the pseudonym "Ray Leigh".
  • You Couldn't Make It Up (1995, Heinemann, ISBN 0-434-00238-0) – named after one of Littlejohn's catchphrases, and described on the jacket as "a brilliant collection of liberal-skewering wit and wisdom", this is a book of recollections and opinion pieces on subjects such as political correctness, politicians, corporate "fat cats", the European Union, and the British Royal Family. Anthony Daniels, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said: "...not only does he never mention foreigners in any but a derogatory way – when he is far too intelligent a man really to believe that we have nothing to learn from any of them – but when he writes of the Germans and the Japanese as having taken our cars and electronics industries he is pandering to the kind of stupid, ignorant, sentimental, self-pitying xenophobia which is the root of all fascism, and which is an obstacle to genuine self improvement."[7] The New Statesman wrote: "Not exactly New Statesman territory, but the pick of the best tabloid columnist in Britain is a joy from beginning to end. Hysterically funny, wonderfully politically incorrect, [...] the only writer in Britain to rival the best of the Americans."[52]
  • To Hell in a Handcart (2001, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-710613-0) – named after another of his catchphrases, this is Littlejohn's only novel, based loosely on the Tony Martin case. The book was lambasted by critics for its portrayal of asylum seekers and the stereotypical individuals in the book, notably by The Independent's David Aaronovitch who described it as "a 400-page recruiting pamphlet for the British National Party".[53] However, it received positive reviews from some conservative writers such as Frederick Forsyth and Andrew Roberts. This was later the subject of a BBC Radio Five Live discussion with Will Self.[54]
  • The Book of Useless Information (with Keith Waterhouse, 2002, John Blake Publishing, ISBN 1-903402-79-4) – co-written with Keith Waterhouse, this "stocking filler" book is a collection of "useless" facts, described on the cover as "all you never needed to know and didn't need to ask".
  • The Ultimate Book of Useless Information (with Keith Waterhouse, 2004, John Blake Publishing, ISBN 1-84454-060-X) – another volume of "useless" facts.
  • Littlejohn's Britain – Publisher: Hutchinson (3 May 2007) ISBN 0-09-179568-0 – described by The Observer as "lampooning New Labour with polemic, pastiche, parody, satire and savage social commentary". The New Statesman said of it: "Littlejohn's Britain doesn't exist. Literally. He spends much of the year writing from a gated mansion in Florida, and admitted in a recent column that, when he is in Britain, he rarely leaves the house. He is describing a country he sees only through the pages of the right-wing press and his self-reinforcing mailbag."[55]
  • Littlejohn's House of Fun: Thirteen Years of (Labour) Madness – Publisher: Hutchinson (1 April 2010) ISBN 978-0-09-193168-1 – Reviewing for The Daily Telegraph Roger Lewis said: "If you prize free expression, this book is essential reading. I was unable to find fault with a single sentiment."[56]
  • Littlejohn's Lost World – Publisher: Arrow Books (2014) ISBN 978-0-099-56928-2 – a volume of autobiography covering the author's first sixteen years.

Personal life[edit]

Littlejohn is a keen football fan and since the late 1960s has been a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. He has starred in his own football video, We Woz Robbed.[57]

He married Wendy A. Bosworth in 1974. They have two children: Georgina (born in 1975), also a journalist, and William (born in 1979), a chef.[7][58]

Littlejohn resides in Vero Beach, Florida.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Press Gazette names top forty journalists of the modern era". Press Gazette. 25 November 2005. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Richard Littlejohn to address Journalists' Charity". Press Gazette. 9 March 2008. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hagerty, Bill (3 June 2007). "'The irritant label has stuck. I think it's fantastic'". The Observer. London.
  4. ^ a b "Are councils employing hopscotch teachers for Asian women?". Full Fact. 16 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b Bland, Archie (3 November 2013). "The columnist's art: No paws for thought for Richard Littlejohn". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Center Parcs pulls Daily Mail ads over Tom Daley article". BBC News. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Farndale, Nigel (6 June 2001). "Shooting from the lip". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  8. ^ a b Richard Littlejohn (2014). Littlejohn's Lost World. Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-099-56928-2.
  9. ^ a b Wright, Patrick (22 February 1993). "The bottle thrower Sun columnist Richard Littlejohn has been named Irritant of the Year in the What The Papers Say awards". The Guardian. London.
  10. ^ "Toffs at the top". Press Gazette. 6 June 2006. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "Richard Littlejohn:Why I'll never give up the day .ob". British Journalism Review. 13 (3): 65–70. 2002. doi:10.1177/095647480201300312. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012.
  12. ^ David Rowan: The Times: Interview – Richard Littlejohn Sky/The Sun
  13. ^ a b c Greenslade, Roy (18 October 2005). "Take one columnist, two papers and steam". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  14. ^ Donegan, Lawrence (11 March 1993). "Statesman wins scribes' backing". The Guardian. London.
  15. ^ "Media Guardian 100: 61. Richard Littlejohn". The Guardian. London. 16 July 2001.
  16. ^ Is Littlejohn's Column Turning Into A Saga? Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Press Gazette, 3 June 2005
  17. ^ a b Hyde, Marina (10 November 2004). "Diary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 November 2007. A nagging feeling that, to some, anything to do with homosexuality remains fascinatingly transgressive forces us to conduct the annual Littlejohn audit.
  18. ^ "'Puppeteer' Dacre in Littlejohn court fight". Press Gazette. 14 October 2005. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.
  19. ^ "Media Guardian 100: 83. Richard Littlejohn". The Guardian. London. 17 July 2006.
  20. ^ a b Greenslade, Roy (15 December 2010). "Littlejohn has a right to be obnoxious". The Guardian. London.
  21. ^ a b Burrell, Ian (15 December 2010). "Outrage at Littlejohn's disabled rant". The Independent. London.
  22. ^ "Press Complaints Commission: Resolved complaints". www.pcc.org.uk.
  23. ^ a b c Greenslade, Roy (22 March 2013). "Daily Mail urged to fire Richard Littlejohn after death of Lucy Meadows". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  24. ^ "Sex Change Teacher Lucy Meadows Found Dead". Sky News. 21 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.[dead link]
  25. ^ http://transmediawatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Press-Release-20130528.pdf
  26. ^ Pidd, Helen; Saskia Murphy (22 March 2013). "Trans teacher believed to have killed herself 'had told of press harassment'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  27. ^ Brown, Jonathan (23 March 2013). "Transgender primary school teacher who 'took own life' had sought protection from media hounding before her death". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Media blamed for suicide of transgendered teacher in England". United Press International. 23 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  29. ^ Turvill, William (25 March 2013). "Vigil planned at Daily Mail offices for dead teacher as 22,000 call for Richard Littlejohn to be sacked". Press Gazette. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  30. ^ Turvill, William (2 April 2013). "Campaigns to get Richard Littlejohn sacked by Daily Mail signed by 240,000". Press Gazette.
  31. ^ [Pidd, Helen (28 May 2013). "Lucy Meadows coroner tells press: 'shame on you'". The Guardian. London.
  32. ^ Huffington Post 28 May 2013 and The Guardian 28 May 2013
  33. ^ Godwin, Richard (11 November 2013). "Austerity's poster girl Jack Monroe, and a storm over her very middle class recipe for kale pesto". London Evening Standard.
  34. ^ Monroe, Jack (1 November 2013). "Dear Richard Littlejohn – here are all the things you got wrong about me". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  35. ^ https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/02/16/daily-mail-columnist-richard-littlejohn-attacks-gay-parents-pass-the-sick-bag/
  36. ^ https://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-joins-call-advertisers-pull-ads-daily-mail-following-anti-gay-attack-parents-be-tom-daley
  37. ^ Joshi, Priya. "Center Parcs to stop advertising with Daily Mail over 'homophobic' column by Richard Littlejohn". International Business Times. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  38. ^ a b c Why I'll never give up the day job British Journalism Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2002, pages 65–70, "During one of the interminable age-of-consent debates, a gang of militant homosexuals kicked lumps out of a young police officer outside the Commons. I happened to remark on air that the police should have turned the flame throwers on them"
  39. ^ Why I'll never give up the day job British Journalism Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2002, pages 65–70, "Another censure arrived when I described the royals as 'a bunch of tax-evading adulterers'. Who, with hindsight, would argue with that?"
  40. ^ "Richard Littlejohn". 28 October 1999. p. 150 – via BBC Genome.
  41. ^ "Littlejohn". 9 October 1997. p. 127 – via BBC Genome.
  42. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (25 November 2002). "Fox on the run". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  43. ^ "How much does he earn?: No 36: Richard Littlejohn, journalist, broadcaster and former Irritant of the Year". The Independent. London. 10 July 1994.
  44. ^ Thompson, Ben (10 July 1994). "Oases amid the Troubles". The Independent. London.
  45. ^ "The Game Still Goes On". offthetelly. October 2001. Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  46. ^ "Wanted". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  47. ^ McCann, Paul (10 December 1997). "Littlejohn back in the 'Sun'". The Independent. London.
  48. ^ "Littlejohn Presentation". TV Newsroom. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  49. ^ Newkey-Burden, Chas (9 August 2007). "How Richard Littlejohn out-liberalled the Left". The First Post. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007.
  50. ^ "Question Time". BBC News. 30 April 2008.
  51. ^ "Have I Got News For You – Episode Guides". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  52. ^ Pollard, Stephen (20 December 1996). "You Couldn't Make it Up". New Statesman. 9 (434). p. 117.
  53. ^ Aaronovitch, David (13 June 2001). "David Aaronovitch: Going to hell in a handcart". The Independent. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  54. ^ Self v Littlejohn BBC. 15 June 2001
  55. ^ Hari, Johann (21 May 2007). "On fantasy island". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  56. ^ Lewis, Roger (3 April 2010). "Littlejohn's House of Fun: Thirteen Years of Labour Madness by Richard Littlejohn: review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  57. ^ "Richard Littlejohn's We Woz Robbed". Amazon.com. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
  58. ^ "It's not nepotism. It's life in our parallel universe". Press Gazette. 28 October 2005. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011.