The Sun front page on JK Rowling abuse claims branded 'awful' and 'triggering'

Ellen Manning
·4 min read
The Sun front page has been criticised as giving a voice to an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence. (PA)
The Sun front page has been criticised as giving a voice to an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence. (PA/Twitter)

MPs have condemned a front page of The Sun in which author JK Rowling’s former husband admitted slapping her.

Critics say the story, accompanied by the headline: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry”, gives a voice to an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence.

The story comes as Rowling has been at the centre of a Twitter row over comments about transgender people.

Labour MP Jess Phillips, who is shadow minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, tweeted: “The sun headline is awful, the perpetrator more awful still. You'd be surprised how only his hideous arrogant admission will allow some to believe.

“Still too often doubt and disbelief are the best weapon abusers have in their arsenal... "no one will believe you.”

Fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy added: “The decision of the Sun to put an abusers ‘side of the story’ reflects how violence against women so often gets dismissed ‘as a domestic’ and so debate focuses on ‘reasons it happens’ rather than how to stop it.

“Heads should roll for doing this, not newspaper presses…”

Sam Smethers, CEO of The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights, also criticised the front page story, saying: “A woman discloses she is a survivor of #domesticabuse. A national newspaper gives a platform to her abuser on their front page. Never underestimate the extent of #misogyny in our society.”

Gillian Martin, member of the Scottish parliament, said the headline would be “ beyond triggering” for many abuse survivors and enabling to abusers.

She said: “It is irresponsible and dangerous.”

The row over Rowling’s comments, which has seen the author garner widespread criticism, saw a school in Sussex drop plans to name a house after her.

In a letter to parents and students on Wednesday, deputy headteacher Sarah Edwards said: “In recent days it has come to light that one of our new names may in fact no longer be an appropriate role model for our community.

“JK Rowling has tweeted some messages which are considered to be offensive to the LGBT+ community (specifically, trans-phobic) and we feel that we do not wish to be associated with these views.”

In a statement, a Sun spokeswoman said they were “disgusted” by the comments of JK Rowling’s ex-husband and had called him “sick” and “unrepentant”.

She said: “It was certainly not our intention to ‘enable’ or ‘glorify’ domestic abuse, our intention was to expose a perpetrator’s total lack of remorse. Our sympathies are always with the victims.

“The Sun has a long history of standing up for abused women and campaigning against domestic violence. Our campaigns have kept refuges open, providing a safe place for women and children to escape violence, as well as getting laws change.”

She added that over the years, supported by charities, the Sun had “empowered countless victims” to come forward and seek help.