More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for the sacking of Richard Littlejohn, the Daily Mail columnist who wrote an offensive article about a transgender teacher.

The SumofUs.org petition has now been delivered to the Daily Mail’s offices in central London, along with a Change.org petition that has received nearly 40,000 signatures.

Yesterday, an inquest into the death of Lucy Meadows was opened and adjourned.

The 32-year-old was found dead in a house in Lancashire on Tuesday 19 March.

Last December, Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn wrote disparagingly about Meadows in a column after her gender transition was made public by a local paper.

She had the support of her school, who informed parents of the transition, but Littlejohn accused the teacher of being “selfish” in wanting to return to her job after the Christmas break.

In the wake of her death, the columnist has faced renewed criticism.

Earlier this week, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said it had received a number of complaints about the article – but none directly from the family of Lucy Meadows.

Meadows had contacted the PCC in January to complain about the way she had been treated in the press – although this was not specifically about Littlejohn.

Around 300 members of the trans community and supporters gathered outside the Daily Mail offices in central London on Monday evening to hold a candlelit vigil for the teacher.

Kaytee Riek, SumOfUs.org campaign manager said: “Lucy Meadows’ tragic death clearly touched a nerve with people in the UK and across the globe. We are tired of the media whipping up controversy and destroying lives simply to sell more papers.”

He added: “Richard Littlejohn crossed a line he shouldn’t have been anywhere near when he attacked Lucy, and he needs to be held accountable. However, the Daily Mail holds ultimate responsibility for what it prints, and must reform itself to ensure no other lives are ruined by what it publishes.”

Last week, the Daily Mail defended Littlejohn’s column. A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that this tragic death should now be the subject of an orchestrated Twitterstorm, fanned by individuals – including Labour’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell – with agendas to pursue.”