Firebrand strike leader Mick Lynch becomes TV personality

RMT union boss appeared on BBC panel show Have I Got News for You on Friday night

Mick Lynch, who wore his RMT lapel pin on the BBC show, shuffled in his seat after one joke Credit: BBC

Rail union leader Mick Lynch became the butt of the joke on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You when he appeared as a panellist and was mocked for bringing the country to a standstill. 

The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) was on the show on Friday night, having been invited on after becoming a media celebrity thanks to his many TV and radio interviews explaining why the strikes are being held.

In a trailer of the pre-recorded show, Mr Lynch became the butt of one joke related to the queue to see the late Queen lying in state. 

Presenter Richard Ayoade put it to the panel that had Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield queued with the public it would have boosted the numbers which fell below record figures. 

Ian Heslop interjected, saying: "No, they were slightly down."

Asked why numbers weren't as high as estimated, Roisin Conaty said it was due to "the internet" and "people having other things to do like watching it on the telly". 

Paul Merton, who is sitting next to Mr Lynch in the satirical show, said: "A live feed, ironically."

Mr Ayoade continued: "On previous occasions people have travelled to London from all parts of the country, but it's much harder to travel these days, isn't it?"

The quip left Mr Lynch, who wore his RMT lapel pin on the BBC show, shuffling in his seat. He did not respond as the audience laughed. 

In a statement on Twitter, the show said: "Have I Got News For You returns this Friday with Richard Ayoade, Mick Lynch, and Roisin Conaty. 

"It’s only a few days after the Queen’s funeral so the BBC have asked all programme makers to be very careful not to upset anyone. 

"With that in mind, we’re on straight after Ghosts."

Mr Lynch was previously a panellist on BBC's Question Time in late June at the height of the rail strikes.

Who is firebrand union boss Mick Lynch?

Mick Lynch was born in west London in January 1962 and raised a Catholic to Irish and Northern Irish parents. 

His father Jackie Lynch was from Cork and his mother Ellen Morris from County Armagh but the family grew up in Paddington, London. 

Mick Lynch was one of five children, who left school at the age of 16 and qualified as an electrician.

He worked in construction, where he said he was illegally blacklisted for joining a union. Twenty years later, he received a settlement.

In 1993, unable to find work in the sector, he started working for Eurostar, where he became actively involved with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch speaking at a rally outside King's Cross Station in London, on June 25 Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

He served two terms as Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, and two and two terms on its executive. 

Then, in 2020, after General Secretary Mick Cash took time off for stress, Mr Lynch was appointed as the acting General Secretary, but stood down after a few months after accusing members of the union's national executive of bullying and harassment. 

Mr Lynch himself took time off work for stress, before returning to win election for the permanent role of General Secretary and took up the position in May 2021.

As part of the media coverage of the RMT's 2022 strikes over pay, Mr Lynch gained widespread attention for his appearances in interviews and debates on the UK's biggest TV networks.