Eddie Izzard attacks fake news as he accepts honorary degree at York Minster

With shocking pink lipstick and varnished nails only a shade darker, the comedian Eddie Izzard cut an unconventional figure next to the Archbishop inside York Minster yesterday.

Eddie Izzard with his honorary degree from York St John University

But it was for his activism and charity work, not his flamboyant dress sense, that he was being honoured.

He was among 12 public figures to graduate with honorary degrees awarded by York St John University.

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Other recipients this week include the broadcaster Harry Gration and the Sheffield-born astronaut Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, in 1991.

Izzard received his degree – which he said his dyslexia had led him to call his Doctorate of Lettuce – for his championing of language, having performed his stand-up comedy in French, German and Spanish.

But he said he did not think of himself as an intellectual.

“I have the gift of a fair amount of intelligence, from my mum and dad, but if the definition of an academic is someone who loves understanding, then I am that. I do love trying to understand things,” he said.

“I love pushing the boundaries of knowledge. And, if we can get more knowledge and real facts in a time when certain presidents of America are coming up with lies and trying to pretend that they are the truth, we need to lock down what the truth is, what real stuff is, what real information is.”

He received his degree from Archbishop John Sentamu, the university’s chancellor.