My legal team have been brilliant and a tremendous amount of work has been going on behind the scenes since June 2020. I can now finally give you all an update, and explain why I need to ask for your continued support of my legal action.
As you may know, I am currently bringing an Employment Tribunal claim against my chambers, Garden Court Chambers and Stonewall Diversity Limited (Stonewall). The crux of my claim is that I was subjected to significant detriments (harm or damage) — including disciplinary proceedings by Garden Court but instigated by Stonewall — and that the reason that they did this was because of my objection to Stonewall’s brand of trans activism and its diversity champions scheme.
I am a barrister but I am a criminal defence lawyer, working predominantly in cases funded from legal aid. I am not a discrimination lawyer. Discrimination law is a complex area of law and therefore I need to instruct specialists in the field. I have instructed discrimination lawyers and counsel who are experts: Slater and Gordon solicitors and Queen’s Counsel. This incurs significant costs, which I need to meet. I need your help to do this.
What’s happening next & Why I need your support
At the moment, the case is due for a hearing on 11 and 12 February to hear some preliminary issues. I wanted to avoid this hearing because it adds to the costs. However my chambers say that they are not the correct Respondents (person to sue). Stonewall say that they also aren’t the correct Respondents, or that the case I have been able to plead or lay out doesn’t adequately explain what it is they have done wrong.
I could only set out the claim based on the information that was available to me. My lawyers and I obtained information from both Respondents by using Subject Access Requests (SARs) under the Data Protection Act. The responses from which ran to over 1,800 pages and both Respondents had significantly redacted or blacked out material. Despite the redactions, these documents showed that:
- When I tweeted about the launch of the LGB Alliance on 23 October 2019, complaints were made to my chambers and that these were being marshalled from Stonewall.
- On 24 October 2019, Stonewall knew (even though I didn’t) that the Heads of Chambers were meeting on the 28th to discuss me, and were directing people to send messages to the Heads of Chambers against me for the purposes of that meeting.
- By 30 October 2019, an investigation was underway against me, based on the complaints that Stonewall had marshalled.
- Stonewall did not lodge its own complaint against me until 31 October. This complaint then became the focus of the investigation, which was then upheld against me, despite the fact that the investigation had started before the Stonewall complaint had even been made.
All of the information that I received under the Data Protection Act was redacted and the names of individuals removed, so I could see some of what had been said but not who had said it. I could not therefore name the people in the claim — which is now used as the basis to criticise the claim — because they had not provided me with those names.
Since the proceedings have started, I have had some disclosure from Stonewall and some from Garden Court, including some of the previously-redacted information that has now been provided with some of the redactions removed. My lawyers have had to fight hard to get even this, A lot is still outstanding and the fight goes on.
But there is further information in the disclosure I have received which is extremely relevant and helpful. I cannot share it now because it has not yet been referred to in a public hearing and therefore I cannot publish it – such are the rules of disclosure in legal proceedings. Once it has been referred to in a public hearing, it will be in the public domain.
Another aspect of my claim is that following concerns I expressed about chambers becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion in December 2018, my earnings as a barrister were suppressed by chambers during 2019. My income dropped by two thirds in one year — something I had never experienced before. My chambers has lodged a defence to this claim which seems incapable of justifying this loss, so we are also seeking to have this addressed at the hearing in February too.
Following the February hearing, the Full Merits Hearing (what we criminal lawyers call a trial) is in June. There is a lot to do to get ready for that.