The Gryphon

This article is about the student newspaper. For other uses, see Gryphon (disambiguation).
The Gryphon
Type Weekly newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) Leeds University Union
Editor Jessica Murray
Founded 1970
Language English
Headquarters Leeds University Union, Leeds

The Gryphon, formerly known as Leeds Student, is a British weekly student newspaper, published free every Friday during term-time and distributed around the University of Leeds, Leeds, England. The only paid position is that of the editor, who is elected yearly by members of Leeds University Union. The articles are written by students, and are largely about local and student based issues.

The Gryphon was formed in 1970 by the merger of the Leeds University Union newspaper (Union News) and the then Leeds Polytechnic Students Union newspaper (Pact), but in November 2005 Leeds Metropolitan University students voted to disaffiliate from Leeds Student, citing under-representation.

The editorship became a full-time, paid sabbatical position in 1972 after a campaign led by the then editor, Paul Vallely, who went on to become the first sabbatical editor. Notable previous editors include Paul Dacre and Nicholas Witchell.


In 1970 the students unions of Leeds University and the then Leeds Polytechnic voted to amalgamate their newspapers into a single publication entitled Leeds Student. In its first year of existence (1970–71) and again two years later (1972–73) the paper was voted Student Newspaper of the Year in the Student Media Awards.[1]

The paper has subsequently been awarded the accolade of Publication of the Year in the Guardian Student Media Awards in 1998,[2] 1999[3] and 2009.[4]

The Gryphon was also the winner of the Best Student Newspaper award in the inaugural National Student Journalism Awards in 1999 organised by the National Union of Students and The Independent newspaper.[5]

Leeds Metropolitan University Students Union's Dissociation

In December 2005, Leeds Metropolitan University Students Union (LMUSU) members chose via ballot to dissociate from the paper. In the past, this had been a joint venture between the two universities, but after continued complaints of a Leeds University centred perspective, a referendum was called to decide whether LMUSU should retain its link with the paper and continue paying a small proportion toward the paper's expenses. Members voted to dissolve the link, and henceforth the paper is a solely Leeds University Union maintained enterprise.

iPad app

In 2012 the Leeds Student Newspaper became the first student newspaper in the UK to launch an iPad edition. The app was built by the paper's 2011/12 Editor Elizabeth Edmonds and 2011/12 Digital Editor Jack Dearlove using QuarkXpress 9's app building tools. The app delivers a digitally remastered version of the best of each week’s paper through Apple's Newsstand.[6] The app continues to be published by 2012/13 Editor Lucy Snow and 2012/13 Digital Editor Giovanni Da Costa.

Name change

In 2014 Leeds Student was renamed as The Gryphon under elected editor Jasmine Andersson. The Gryphon returned to the original name of the paper when it was founded in 1897.


Leeds Student has stirred debate over a variety of articles. These range from a full-page interview with BNP leader Nick Griffin, in which a remark that homosexuals should be kept in the closet and the door behind them "kept firmly shut" (as well as other, race-based comments) caused great offence.

In April 2010 Leeds Student again found itself at the centre of racial controversy after an issue dated 30 April was removed from circulation by Leeds University Union representatives. The issue in question featured a comment by Palestinian journalist Sameh Habeeb regarding beliefs in a pro-Israeli bias in the media. Following alleged complaints from Jewish students, the newspaper was removed by LUU executives, leading to accusations of censorship of the paper, which had previously been treated as an independent entity within LUU. After an attempted campaign to force a motion of no confidence in the leadership of Communications and Internal Affairs Officer Jak Codd, who was responsible for the anti-Semitism allegations, Codd resigned from his post, citing racial tensions within the union.

Frank Ellis

In February/March 2006, the paper published an interview by Matt Kennard, a Leeds Student journalist, with Dr Frank Ellis, a controversial professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies who has expressed his support for racial differences in average intelligence. Dr Ellis's comments were widely condemned.[7][8] A campaign was launched by Hanif Leylabi, President of the Unite Against Fascism organisation, which called upon the university to sack Ellis. The story received coverage in The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Times Higher Education and various other national newspapers and radio stations as well as national and local television services. A statement was released by Leeds University Union calling for his dismissal. Leeds University condemned Ellis' views as "abhorrent".[7]

Ellis was subsequently suspended by the Vice-Chancellor, Michael Arthur, pending disciplinary proceedings.[7] The University issued a media release stating that it was investigating an alleged breach of its diversity policy. It also said Ellis's views were wholly at odds with the University's values, he had jeopardised the university's obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and that he had not apologised for his remarks.[9] Dr Ellis took early retirement in June 2006, pre-empting the outcome of the disciplinary action.[10]

Closure threat

In 2014 a funding issue almost led to the closure of the paper due to a dispute with the students union about advertising but closure was averted.[11]

Notable editors

Notable former editors of The Gryphon and its predecessors include:


  1. 1 2 Cunningham, Peter (30 July 2009). Tertiary Sector, Binary Divide: National policy and local experiences of higher education in the 1960s and 1970s (PDF). Building the Future. The Henry Moore Institute. p. 18. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  2. "Take a risk . . .". The Guardian. 22 May 2001. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  3. "Leeds wins Guardian student newspaper award". The Guardian. 22 October 1999. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  4. "Guardian Student Media Awards, 2009: Winners". The Guardian. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  5. "Media: National Student Journalism Awards". The Independent. 16 November 1999. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  6. Sherriff, Lucy. "Leeds University Student Paper First To Launch iPad App". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  7. 1 2 3 Matthew Taylor (24 March 2006). "University suspends lecturer in racism row who praised BNP". The Guardian.
  8. Tony Halpin (March 24, 2006). "Lecturer is suspended for 'racist' IQ claims". The Times.
  9. "Racism row lecturer is suspended". BBC News. 23 March 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  10. Alexandra Smith (12 July 2006). "Lecturer at centre of race row takes early retirement". The Guardian.
  11. "Funding shortfall forces Leeds Student to cease printing". Press Gazette. 21 March 2014.
  12. "Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail: The man who hates liberal Britain". New Statesmen. 2 January 2014.
  13. "The Big Interview: Jay Rayner". Yorkshire Post. 2 June 2013.
  14. "Nicholas Witchell:More touchy than feely". The Independent. 27 August 2005.
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