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Guardian writer boycotts newspaper for failing to tell readers ‘cat killer’ murderer was transgender

Louise Tickle
Louise Tickle says after reading a Guardian article about Scarlet Blake, she was left unaware that Blake was a 'male killer' - Colin McPherson/Television Stills

A writer for the Guardian has boycotted the newspaper for failing to tell its readers that a cat killer who murdered a stranger was transgender.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old trans woman, was found guilty last week of murdering Jorge Martin Carreno in July 2021 on his way home from a night out, four months after Blake’s Netflix-inspired killing of a cat.

Louise Tickle, an award-winning journalist who has written for the Guardian for more than 20 years, has accused the newspaper of “deceiving its readers” for using the word “woman” in its headline and omitting the fact Blake was transgender in an article covering the case.

In a letter to Katharine Viner, the newspaper’s editor, Tickle said: “I’ve contributed to the Guardian for nearly two and a half decades, but as a result of an utterly dismaying news piece published on Friday, I cannot do so again until I’m confident that the Guardian is able to demonstrate that its reporters, editors and management understand what constitutes a fact, and stops deceiving its readers.”

Tickle explained that upon reading the article online last Friday, she was left unaware that Blake was a “male killer”.

“How could I,” she asked. “The headline used the word ‘woman’ and nowhere in the piece did I pick up any reference to the killer being transgender.

“My understanding is that I didn’t just miss the word ‘transgender’ – that word was not included in the piece.

“So, as far as I – and as far as any of your other readers were concerned that day – a woman had committed an extraordinarily depraved and sexually motivated murder of a man, after having carried out a hideous act of animal cruelty,” she added in the letter to Viner.

‘It is disgraceful’

The journalist then claims that when she went back to look at the piece again the following day it had been changed; “the headline was altered to remove the word ‘woman’ and the word ‘transgender’ was added in the fifth paragraph (after references to ‘woman’ and ‘she’ in the text above).”

She added: “Many people will not read that far, and so Guardian readers are still being led to believe that a woman has committed this crime.”

Tickle accused the newspaper of “actively deceiving readers into believing that there is a sudden upsurge in women engaged in violent, homicidal and sexually motivated criminality”.

“It is disgraceful. There is no excuse for it. Sometimes people suggest that the anger around this kind of factually inaccurate reporting is overblown, performative, unkind, or petty. It is not,” she wrote.

The Guardian has now included a note under its online article to say the following: “This article was updated on 23 February 2024 to add further details and biographical information, including reference to Scarlet Blake’s transgender identity, which were not included in the agency copy on which our initial version relied.”

Scarlet Blake
Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old trans woman, was found guilty last week of murdering Jorge Martin Carreno in July 2021 - Vagner Vidal/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd

It is the latest in a series of trans rows in which the newspaper has become embroiled.

Its deputy music editor sparked criticism last year for using a review of Róisín Murphy’s music to criticise the Irish singer’s views that vulnerable children should be protected from puberty blockers, describing it as “a masterful album with an ugly stain”.

More recently, JK Rowling branded the Guardian’s chief sports writer a “progressive misogynist” with “disdain for women’s sport” after he dismissed concerns that transgender women could compete in Parkrun’s female category.

Blake’s sentencing got under way on Monday at Oxford Crown Court.

Blake was found guilty on Friday of murdering Carreno by hitting him in the back of the head with a vodka bottle before strangling him and pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned.

Oxford Crown Court heard how Blake had killed a cat four months before the murder, placing the animal in a blender, which was inspired by the Netflix documentary called Don’t F—k with Cats, in which a man kills kittens before murdering a human.

The Guardian has been contacted for comment.