Equality regulator suspends investigation into EHRC chair Baroness Falkner
Britain’s Equality Authority has dropped the £120,000 probe into its embattled boss after trans activists prosecuted her for defending women-only public spaces.
Baroness Falkner von Margravine, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has been subjected to “abhorrent abuse” and has been the subject of numerous complaints from officials of “bullying”, “transphobia” and “harassment”.
This comes after the 68-year-old called for a law change to protect women-only spaces and urged ministers to update the definition of ‘sex’. in the Equality Act 2010 to clarify that it refers to biological sex rather than self-identification of sex.
Her plea led trans activists to launch a “witch hunt” against her and bombarded the EHRC with complaints, with the regulator paying out £120,000 of taxpayers’ money to pay an independent lawyer to investigate the allegations.
But the investigation plunged the regulator into a crisis, opening a rift between its leaders and the officials tasked with implementing its decisions to uphold equality laws, and sparking outrage across the political spectrum since it surfaced on Tuesday.
Amid mounting backlash, the EHRC stated today: “This investigation has been suspended.” At this time we are seeking legal advice on the implications of any leaked confidential information. We must ensure its integrity and fairness to all parties involved.”
Parliamentarians “strongly condemned” the program of launching an “irresponsible attack” against Baroness Kishwer Falkner (pictured) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The move came hours after 54 cross-party colleagues including Lord Frost, Baron Roberts and Baroness Jenkin backed the EHRC leader and said she had been “irresponsibly attacked”.
Lord Strasberger added she had been targeted for “shaken up the EHRC” and Winterbourne’s Baroness Nicholson said she faced a “witch hunt” for her pro-women campaigning.
Separately, a spokesperson for the EHRC said: “The Board has every confidence in the CEO, Marcial Boo, and is working closely with him and the leadership team to manage this delicate and fast-paced situation.”
The Mail revealed staff have compiled a dossier of more than 40 vague complaints against them, alleging transphobia, bullying and harassment.
The dossier lamented “a lack of psychological safety, that is, fear of who will be attacked next” and workers were “concerned that the commission is becoming an unsafe place to work”.
Other complainants are said to have taken offense when someone rolled their eyes. While another alleged Baroness had described falconers Emma Laslett, a trans quiz contestant, was the focus of a debate on BBC Radio 4 for being included as a “guy with lipstick” in an “all female final”.
However, sources said the “ideologically motivated” moaning failed to follow proper procedures and instead compiled a hundreds of pages long “super complaint”.
The move tasked top barrister Gavin Mansfield KC with the inquiry, costing taxpayers over £120,000 while leaving the leader to her own devices.
But Baroness Falkner was reportedly forced to use “tens of thousands of pounds” of her savings and pension to defend herself against the “witch hunt”, with the Equality Officer already having more than £30,000 out of pocket.
But Baroness Falkner (pictured) was reportedly forced to use “tens of thousands of pounds” of her savings and pension to defend herself against the “witch hunt”.
More than 50 members of the House of Lords (pictured) from across the political spectrum are believed to have signed a letter over a recent Channel 4 report into the investigation into the Baroness
An EHRC insider said: “She does not receive any financial support from her end while the organization has appointed a KC at enormous cost – money that could be spent on protecting people from discrimination.”
A source close to the Baroness said she has to draw on her savings and pension to cover statutory bills.
The source added that friends fear for the Baroness’ health: “The effects have been devastating.” It drains all her energy and causes immense stress.
“We are all very concerned about how much weight she has lost and how often we see her upset and crying.”
Since news of the allegations against the baroness broke, she has seen growing support.
This week more than 50 colleagues accused Channel 4 of providing an “unbalanced and biased” news report on allegations against Baroness Falkner
Parliamentarians “strongly condemned” the program of launching an “irresponsible attack” against Baroness Kishwer Falkner and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
In a scathing letter to Ofcom and Channel 4 this week, they accused the show of being “complimentary” in staff attempts to topple the chairman and weaken the board.
Critics have already accused Channel 4 of left-wing bias in Tuesday’s coverage of alleged evidence of a toxic culture at the EHRC and “dismay” at Baroness Falkner’s leadership
Critics have already accused Channel 4 of left-wing bias in Tuesday’s coverage of alleged evidence of a toxic culture at the EHRC and “dismay” at Baroness Falkner’s leadership.
Actors and silhouettes were used to quote a number of anonymous current and former collaborators. One said the situation was “heartbreaking”, another said staff often broke down in tears.
The show also cited documents that said the chairman’s “unacceptable behavior” had “normalized” while staff were being bullied.
In the condemning letter, MPs said: “As a cross-party group of colleagues, we condemn the article in the strongest possible terms.”
“As part of an ongoing investigation, Channel 4’s intervention breached both Section 5 (Required impartiality and accuracy) and Section 7 (Fairness) of the Broadcasting Act.”
The letter acknowledged that the current situation at EHRC is likely to be “toxic” due to the sensitive debate surrounding women’s rights, sex and gender.
However, in view of the “vehemently held views”, a national broadcaster must “at least try to present both sides of the argument”, it said.
“Instead, we felt the viewers were presented with a play so unbalanced as to possibly create prejudice.”
“Channel 4 will no doubt try to defend itself by saying it spoke to more than 20 former and current employees; “However, that means little when all of these employees appear to hold exactly the same opinions,” it said.
A Channel 4 News spokesman said: “We stand by our coverage of the independent investigation into Lady Falkner and the culture at the EHRC.”
“Lady Falkner was given the opportunity to appear in the program and that invitation remains open.”