Sunday, May 16

Meghan: MP behind solidarity letter calls for action against press harassment | Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

The harassment of the Duchess of Sussex shows MPs must take more action against press harassment, said the MP who organized a solidarity letter for Meghan after Prince Harry suggested the act had given the couple more. support than their own families.

Holly Lynch coordinated the cross-party letter from 72 women MPs to Meghan in 2019. On Tuesday, the Halifax Labor MP said the warning that MPs would no longer accept a barrage of negative coverage with “colonial overtones” had clearly not been heeded. by the media.

Lynch said he had shared Harry’s fears that “history will repeat itself” about the treatment of his mother, Princess Diana.

“Those were some of my concerns when we made the decision to put together that letter,” Lynch told The Guardian. “Many media outlets have not heeded those calls for change, so we may start to need to think about a case before the government on how to stop harassing women in public life and put them in a position where they can feel suicidal ”.

Several MPs are understood to have conducted preliminary inquiries to see if a debate could be held in the House of Commons in response to the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. The debate could address racism in the media and the mental health tensions of persistent press coverage.

In the interview, Harry told Winfrey that he had felt more solidarity with these MPs than with members of his own family. “I suppose one of the most revealing parts, and the saddest parts, was over 70 … MPs, both Conservative and Labor, came out and brought up the colonial undertones of the articles and headlines written about Meghan,” he said. “However, no one in my family said anything during those three years. And that hurts “.

Holly Lynch MP
Holly Lynch in the House of Commons. He said he had shared Harry’s fears of “history repeating itself” about the treatment of his mother, Princess Diana. Photograph: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor / PA

The original letter highlighted that many MPs believed that Meghan had been subjected to racist treatment by the press. “We are calling out what can only be described as an outdated colonial background in some of these stories,” he said.

Lynch previously said that Meghan called her on the phone after receiving the letter and the two discussed the loneliness that women can feel in the public spotlight. The letter was sent in the wake of an emotional interview Meghan gave to ITV when she described the pressure of media scrutiny.

Lynch said: “The letter clearly did not make the significant difference in the conduct of some members of the British press that we expected,” he said. “So it’s a timely reminder for us to use our voices as women legislators to say, what’s next?”

He said a conversation needed to start about greater regulation of the press if there was not a cultural shift in the way sections of the media operated. “We are legislators, we should be able to work together to find solutions. We have a responsibility to intervene, ”he said.

Lynch said MPs were better able to respond to concerns about media conduct, which she could “make very clear,” than to the royal family, where accusations of racism had been made over private conversations involving people. unidentified.

He said there will now be a discussion among the MPs who signed the letter about what further collective actions could be taken in parliament. “We are coming together to explore what the next steps might be in order to ask the government to take further steps to ensure that people with a voice in the print and broadcast media are using that influence responsibly,” he said.

The letter was signed by now Minister for Children Vicky Ford and Minister for Business Gillian Keegan, as well as former Conservative Minister Tracey Crouch and Congresswoman Lucy Allan.

It was signed primarily by Labor MPs, including now-shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, shadow Home Office Minister Jess Phillips, and shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell, and former Home Secretary at the shadow, Diane Abbott.

Dodds said Tuesday that she was proud to have signed it and defended her criticism of how the media had treated Meghan. “That letter was about the treatment of people like Meghan Markle and it has been very disturbing to see how women have been treated by sections of the media,” he said. “Racism and mental health are issues to be taken seriously, but this is much bigger than the royal family.”

Phillips said that she “fell off the couch” when Harry mentioned the letter, but said that it “meant something to them, that it showed the courage to do this and to speak out about the abuse of all women in public life, particularly women in public life. color”.

Powell also said she was “surprised but pleased” when Harry mentioned the letter, and that it showed that acts of solidarity were worthwhile. “It shows that people need to talk and yell at things when they are bad, and not be left out. It matters when we do it. “

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who also signed the letter, said she was “deeply concerned” by Meghan’s statements about her mental health. “I hope this is a turning point in the way we think about mental health in the media; there is always a person, a mother, a daughter, a friend, on the receiving end of the comment. “

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