Mick Philpott guilty: 'Jeremy Kyle Show lifestyle' shocked a nation

Simon Garner
Father-of-seventeen Mick Philpott on the Jeremy Kyle show where he appeared with his wife Mairead Philpott and girlfriend Lisa Willis and had be separated from the presenter by security after angry words were exchanged about his lifestyle.

Appearances on the Jeremy Kyle Show, a frequent and forthright presence on social networking sites and comments to newspapers about living with wife Mairead as well as girlfriend Lisa Willis led to conjecture and speculation about how Mick Philpott managed to live in such a way.

Mick Philpott, had become notorious over the years for his "unconventional" family, but many thought it was a loving household where such a heinous act was not even imaginable.

Although many people could not understand why the women in his life accepted their lot or even desired it, general opinion was that Mrs Philpott and Miss Willis got on well with one another.

It is believed that just weeks before the fatal blaze, the relationship between Miss Willis and Mick Philpott was over and they had become locked in a custody battle over the five children they had together.

Philpott said he could understand why people were shocked at the way his family lived, especially when he revealed intimate details of the dynamics involved, such as how he would spend a few nights in his caravan and one night would be spent with Mrs Philpott and the next with Miss Willis, but said he could not understand why people felt disgust.

Appearing on The Jeremy Kyle Show, Philpott claimed he was prepared to divorce his wife, marry Miss Willis, and then divorce her simply so that she would not feel left out because she did not share the Philpott family name.

This untraditional lifestyle also led to Philpott being dubbed "Shameless Mick" in 2007 for his benefit claims and refusal to get a job in a documentary by former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe.

He originally hit the headlines the year before, in 2006, when he demanded Derby City Council rehouse him and his large family because the four-bed house they had been allocated was too small.

At the time, Miss Willis was expecting his 15th child and Philpott claimed that when two of his other children visited, he and his wife had to sleep in a tent in the back garden.

During his television appearance, Philpott also told show host Kyle that he was "very, very defensive" when it came to his family.

Reacting to perceived criticisms people made of his life, he said: "Do they know me as a family, do they know my kids? I don't think so.

"Anybody who wants to see me, my other partner and my kids - they can come and stop with me for a week and I guarantee after a week they'll be amazed, especially at the way my children behave.

"My children are brought up properly."

During a press conference he and Mairead gave five days after the children's deaths, the distraught couple repeatedly wiped away tears and thanked the public and emergency services personnel who had tried to help the children.

Philpott told reporters: "We can't express our gratitude enough.

"It's not just us that have suffered, it's them as well - it's everybody."

He also revealed Duwayne's organs had been donated to save the life of another child.

In the aftermath of the six children's deaths, feeling on the Allenton estate where the family lived was one of unity and support for the Philpotts.

Many people who knew and socialised with Mick Philpott and his family - said to have included 17 of his biological children before the tragic fire - defended his lifestyle, saying negative representations of the area and the man did not live up to the reality.

One local, Bobby Sutherland, was inspired to set up a charity to help pay for the funerals of the six children, whom he said Mick Philpott loved desperately.

Fighting back tears as he stood in the street outside the fire-ravaged family home, he said at the time: "Yeah, they can slag him off, but he loved his kids.

"Who doesn't make a mistake?

"Yeah, you make mistakes but you don't deserve that.

"Nobody deserves that.