The Daily Mail needs to stop equating epilepsy with violence and mental illness

The Daily Mail needs to stop equating epilepsy with violence and mental illness


The Daily Mail has done it again. Yes, I realise that I should never be surprised by anything that appears in the Daily Fail, but I can’t help but be shocked that yet again they have equated epilepsy with violent behaviour.

Take this story which appeared on the website today: Epileptic plasterer who ‘killed a banker with a single punch on a night out attacked him “because he felt threatened” after one of his victim’s friends made a comment about his race

Did he punch the man while his limbs were jerking during a seizure? No. Was he dazed and confused after coming round from a period of unconsciousness? No. Does the fact that he has epilepsy have anything to do with his violent and ultimately fatal outburst? No.

He left his job after being diagnosed with epilepsy. That’s it.

He told jurors he worked as a plasterer for about four years after leaving school, but quit work after he was diagnosed with epilepsy following a seizure.

‘I haven’t been able to work. I stay at home pretty much,’ he said.

He’s 31 now, so that’s a long time not to work. Many – or indeed probably most – people with epilepsy work and lead normal, fulfilling lives. Normal, fulfilling lives which don’t involve punching people and causing their death. Epilepsy had nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, to do with that violent rage.

The Daily Mail has form for this. Back in October 2012 I was so incensed with a very similar piece – that gem was Epileptic man stabbed his noisy neighbour to death with a fish knife in row over eviction – that I wrote and complained to the paper. This is what I wrote. I didn’t get a response, of course. The chap in the piece had mental health problems which clearly contributed to the tragic outcome. Again, his epilepsy had nothing to do with it but was just a peg.

Woo, look at those crazy epileptics! They are mentally ill! Maybe they’re actually possessed by demons? We’re all going to catch it! They’re going to kill us all!

Right, people?

As I wrote in my previous complaint:

  • The term “epileptic” is used in the headline and copy as almost a justification for this man’s violent behaviour. In fact, his having epilepsy was of no relevance to the story whatsoever.
  • Relating this man’s violent crime to his epilepsy only serves to reinforce ill-informed prejudices and the unnecessary stigma which people with epilepsy incredibly still face. If he had had asthma, would the headline have been “Asthmatic plasterer […] “killed a banker””?
  • Don’t get me started on the use of the label “epileptic”. As a person with epilepsy, I refuse to be defined by the condition. It’s just a very small part of who I am – I am not “an epileptic”. In the same way that people would surely not refer to a “Downs Syndrome baby” in this day and age, it would be fantastic if people with epilepsy could be granted the same respect.

I know I shouldn’t give the Daily Mail the oxygen of publicity but this really grinds my gears.

This kind of unhelpful media representation only serves to reinforce the stigma and prejudice which sadly still exist. No one needs to be ashamed of having epilepsy.

Interview with Gemma Hunt from CBeebies (Woman Alive)

Interview with Gemma Hunt from CBeebies (Woman Alive)

Woman Alive Aug 2015

I spoke to the lovely Gemma Hunt, who plays plucky Gem on CBeebies’ pirate adventure show Swashbuckle, about her life, career and faith for Woman Alive magazine.

Gemma is a committed Christian who felt a calling at the age of 16 to be “salt and light in the dark place of the media” and believes her career has been blessed and guided by God.

I don’t find it difficult to be a Christian in the media. I don’t know how I would have got this far without God. […] He never gives me anything I can’t handle. Whenever I feel tested, I remind myself that God knows I can do this.

You can view a PDF of the feature here or read it on the Woman Alive website.

Book review: The State We Need by Michael Meacher – Oxford Today


I reviewed The State We Need by Michael Meacher MP for the Oxford alumni publication Oxford Today.

Somewhere, in a parallel universe in which Michael Meacher (New College, 1958) won the 2007 Labour leadership contest, the world is quite a different place.

Manufacturing is on the up; the elite ruling classes are losing their stranglehold on power; the banks are increasingly accountable to the public. In that world, climate change is being addressed, adult social care is a free universal service, and the super-rich are helping to wipe out national debt through greater taxation.

But could this ever really happen?

Click here to read the full review.

First national newspaper byline – 28/12/13

Two of my Birmingham Mail stories have been syndicated in the nationals this week, appearing in the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. And one even appeared with my byline!


Daily Mirror – Grieving daughter’s heartbreak after funeral firm “loses” ashes (with my byline)

Daily Mail – “I feel like it is not my body anymore” Devastated vegetarian ate meat for the first time in her life – after Nando’s served her chicken by mistake

Daily Mirror – “It’s not my body anymore”: Strict vegetarian eats meat for the first time after Nando’s mistakenly serves her chicken

Birmingham Mail cuttings – December 2013


Here are some of the things I worked on at the Birmingham Post and Mail during December 2013.

5/12/13 – Midlands teenagers among least likely to apply to university

6/12/13 – Students offered university slots in Birmingham based on predicted grades

10/12/13 – Fairytale ending for couple’s children’s book

12/12/13 – Birmingham schools record drop in SATs results

18/12/13 – Birmingham school celebrating fifth “outstanding” Ofsted in a row

20/12/13 – Classmates pay emotional Christmas tribute to Christina Edkins

28/12/13 – Grieving daughter: “Funeral firm lost my mum’s ashes” (FRONT PAGE)

30/12/13 – Birmingham ballet school planning major expansion

30/12/13 – Vegetarian for 28 years – and Nando’s served me up chicken