JK Rowling hails 'heroine' Allison Bailey after winning case over gender critical beliefs

27 July 2022, 23:56 | Updated: 28 July 2022, 00:00

JK Rowling branded Allison Bailey her "heroine" after her success
JK Rowling branded Allison Bailey her "heroine" after her success. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

JK Rowling has hailed barrister Allison Bailey her "heroine" after a tribunal found she was discriminated against by her chambers because of her "gender-critical belief".

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Allison Bailey was awarded £22,000 in compensation on Wednesday.

The lesbian barrister, who believes sex is immutable, claimed that LGBT charity Stonewall induced her employer, Garden Court Chambers (GCC), to investigate her over her support of gender-critical beliefs.

The tribunal found that GCC discriminated against Ms Bailey by publishing a tweet saying it was investigating her and by upholding a claim by Stonewall arguing that two of her tweets "were likely to breach (The Bar Standards Board's) core duties".

But allegations that it discriminated against and victimised her through withholding of instructions and work in 2019, causing the claimant financial loss, a claim of indirect discrimination by GCC, and a claim that Stonewall instructed, caused or induced GCC to discriminate against her, were all dismissed.

Following the decision, Harry Potter author JK Rowling said: "Allison Bailey is a heroine to me and innumerable other feminists for refusing to abandon her beliefs and principles in the fact of intimidation and discrimination.

"Congratulations."

She later added: "And I couldn't be prouder of my friend."

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In December 2018, Ms Bailey complained to her colleagues about GCC becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion, claiming the group advocated "trans extremism" and was complicit in a campaign of intimidation of those who questioned gender self-identity.

In October 2019, she was involved in setting up the LGB Alliance advocacy group to resist "gender extremism".

Her tweets opposing trans rights campaigns led to tweets and complaints being sent to GCC, alleging her opinions were transphobic and damaged GCC's reputation.

The tribunal held that her gender-critical belief that Stonewall wanted to replace sex with gender identity, that the absolutist tone of its advocacy of gender self-identity made it complicit in threats against women, and that it eroded women's rights and lesbian same-sex orientation, were beliefs protected under the Equality Act.

A reserved judgment handed down on Tuesday upheld her claim that GCC discriminated against her because of her belief, when it tweeted that the complaints would be investigated under a complaints procedure, and when it found in December 2019 that two of her tweets were likely to breach barristers' core duties.

GCC was ordered to pay her £22,000 compensation for injury to feelings, plus interest of £4,693.33.

The chambers said it is "reviewing the judgment carefully with our legal team with a view to appeal".

The tribunal did not accept she lost work and income because of her December 2018 complaint, or her claim that a Stonewall complaint about her tweets was "engineered" by a trans rights-supporting colleague.

She had made an indirect discrimination claim alleging that GCC had a practice of holding that gender-critical views were bigoted, and that GCC allowed Stonewall to direct its complaints process, but both claims were rejected.

A separate allegation that Stonewall instructed or induced discrimination by GCC, or attempted to do so, was also rejected.

In response to the outcome, Ms Bailey said on Twitter: "The Employment Tribunal found that Garden Court Chambers discriminated against me because of my gender critical belief when it published a statement that I was under investigation & in upholding Stonewall's complaint against me."

A Stonewall spokesperson said: "We are pleased that the tribunal ruled that Stonewall has not been found to have instructed, caused or induced (GCC) to discriminate against Allison Bailey."

A GCC spokesperson said the judgment "dismissed Ms Bailey's claim against Stonewall and most of her claims against Garden Court Chambers including all her claims for indirect discrimination"

They added: "We note that her primary claim (for loss of earnings on the grounds of victimisation) was dismissed, the tribunal finding that 'We could not conclude that it was shown that the fall in income was in any way influenced (let alone significantly influenced)' by Ms Bailey's complaint to colleagues about Garden Court becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion or by her beliefs.

"The tribunal found that it 'could not conclude that (GCC) as a whole had a practice of treating gender-critical beliefs as bigoted'. This confirms our stance.

"We have maintained throughout that our members, quite reasonably, hold differing views in the complex debate around trans and sex-based rights."