Who is India Willoughby?

The newsreader and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant is making headlines after clashing online with Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

India Willoughby during her visit to The Cambridge Union on November 20, 2023 in Cambridge, England. (Photo by Nordin Catic/Getty Images For The Cambridge Union)
India Willoughby is a newsreader and TV presenter. (Getty Images For The Cambridge Union)

India Willoughby has made headlines after clashing with Harry Potter author JK Rowling over their views on transgender issues.

The newsreader and TV presenter claims to have reported Rowling to the police over allegations of transphobia, stating that she had been repeatedly misgendered by the writer. Rowling has now responded, saying "the police are very busy". The writer also claims she has a harassment case against Willoughby, after they have persistently clashed on social media for over a year.

Rowling is known all over the world for penning one of the most popular children's book series ever written. So who is India Willoughby?


India Willoughby speaks after winning the media moment of the year award at the Diversity in Media Awards on September 15, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
India Willoughby became the UK's first transgender national newsreader on Channel 5 in 2017. (Getty Images)

Willoughby, 58, began her TV career as a regional newsreader in the North East of England for ITV Border, where she worked for 10 years before transitioning. She quit her job in Cumbria in 2010 to undergo a full transition. She has an adult son named Rhodes.

Speaking about her transitioning she said: “I was interviewing a politician and caught sight of my reflection… I had slicked back hair, a sharp suit, and looked confident. Yet I stared at myself in disgust. This has got to stop, I thought. I need to be true to myself.”

She quit her job as TV news anchor and went to work in PR in Newcastle, changing her name by deed poll. Willoughby said: “During the week, I lived as India in Newcastle and every weekend I’d go back to Carlisle, wearing jeans and a football shirt to see my boy.”

Five years after her gender reassignment she rejoined ITV Border, and then moved to Channel 5, becoming Britain’s first transgender national television newsreader in 2017.

Reality TV star

India Willoughby enters the Celebrity Big Brother in 2018.
India Willoughby took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2018. (Getty Images)

Willoughby took part in Celebrity Big Brother in 2018. The series, dubbed the Year of the Woman began with an all-female household to mark 100 years of women's suffrage. Willoughby entered the house with celebrities including Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, journalist Rachel Johnson and Coronation Street star Amanda Barrie. She was regularly misgendered by some housemates who had only just met her for the first time as India. She was argumentative and confrontational in the house and was the first celebrity to be evicted after 11 days.

TV and radio presenter

India Willoughby is evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
India Willoughby has had a successful TV career since appearing on CBB. (Getty Images)

Willoughby has had a successful TV presenting career since CBB. She has been a panellist on Loose Women and been a regular contributor on Good Morning Britain. She became a presented on GB News but dramatically quit in June 2021.

Willoughby appeared on BBC's Question Time in February 2023, where she made an emotional speech, saying the ongoing and “toxic” debate of transgender issues is being driven by “a lot of misinformation by a media that is completely transphobic”.

Read more: India Willoughby and JK Rowling feud