Journalist apologises after ‘disgusting’ knife crime piece

Claudia Hicks stands in front of the finished mural of her brother Henry who died aged 18

Claudia Hicks stands in front of the finished mural of her brother Henry who died aged 18 - Credit: Archant

Writer branded late teenager Henry Hicks ‘a thuggish white lad’

A journalist who described Henry Hicks, who died in a road collision in December, as a "thuggish white lad" has publicly apologised after an outcry from the teenager's family and friends.

Henry Hicks' sister, Claudia, 23, described the article by Mary Wakefield, a commissioning editor for The Spectator, as "disgusting" and "unprofessional journalism" before launching a petition to urge the editor of the magazine to pull the article and issue an apology.

Henry died after his moped crashed into other parked vehicles following a pursuit by Islington police last December.

In her column, 'Not to worry, just a gang killing': Machetes and the Middle Classes, Ms Wakefield, who lives in Canonbury, talks about part of the community's "indifference" to a number of recent stabbings as "not just amoral" but "a cause of crime" itself.

It includes the killing of 18-year-old Stefan Appleton, who was stabbed with a machete at Nightingale Park in Canonbury at the beginning of June before his attacker left on a moped.

She went on to complain that there had been a "bigger outcry" over Henry's death than those of recent knife victims.

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Claudia, who has launched The Henry Hicks Foundation to help other families who have lost their children since her brother's death, explained her anger at the article.

She said: "It's so hard when you lose someone, our family are devastated after the loss of Henry.

"To suggest that people in Islington don't care about what's happened is wrong. Everyone is doing everything to reduce these tragedies happening, we don't need her putting us all down."

After the article appeared in the magazine last Friday, friends of the Justice For Henry campaign went and protested outside the offices of the Spectator magazine in Old Queen Street.

A petition launched by the Hicks family for the article to be removed followed by an apology has already accrued more than 800 signatures.

Ms Wakefield has since apologised for her description of Mr Hicks in a letter published by The Spectator on its website.

She wrote: "In an article about the recent rise in knife crime in London, I mentioned in passing Henry Hicks...I referred to Henry as 'thuggish', which in retrospect was unsubstantiated. My apologies to Henry's family."