Judge throws out ‘unarguable’ case alleging Stonewall’s ‘pro-trans bias’ influenced Crown Prosecution Service

Vic Parsons
·3-min read

A High Court judge has thrown out an “unarguable” claim that being a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme has biased the Crown Prosecution Service on LGBT+ issues.

The attempted judicial review was brought by an anonymous 15-year-old girl backed by anti-trans pressure group Safe Schools Alliance, who crowdfunded over £35,000 to challenge the CPS LGBT+ hate crime guidance for schools. Anti-trans campaigners have used crowdfunding sites to raise almost £1 million to fund at least 18 UK lawsuits against trans rights within the last four years.

The CPS, which conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, launched its LGBT+ bullying and hate crimes schools pack in January 2020.

The guidance was supposed to help teachers tackle LGBT+ hate crimes in classrooms, but was withdrawn by the CPS when the Safe Schools Alliance sent a letter threatening legal action against it in the form of a judicial review.

The scope of the legal action later widened to include the CPS’ membership of LGBT+ charity Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, whose mission is “ensuring all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace”. More than 850 UK employers are signed up.

Dismissing the case, High Court judge Mr Justice Cavanagh refused the challenge to the CPS LGBT+ hate crimes guidance and ruled the proposed judicial review “unarguable”.

The judge said: “There is no basis for asserting that the individual prosecutor will be influenced in any way by the CPS’ status as a Diversity Champion.”

The anonymous girl’s lawyers argued that the CPS was biased by Stonewall’s “pro-trans ideology”.

But Duncan Penny QC, representing the CPS, told the High Court Tuesday (12 January) that the Diversity Champions programme was simply “designed to create a more inclusive environment”.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Cavanagh said CPS membership of the programme was not “capable of giving rise to actual bias or the appearance of bias in relation to prosecutorial decisions”.

He added: “I do not accept that it is arguable that the status (as a member of the programme) means that the CPS has aligned itself with a political pressure group.

“The CPS maintains its membership as a Stonewall Diversity Champion in its capacity as an employer, not in relation to its capacity or functions as a prosecutorial authority. The status has nothing to do with the CPS’ role in relation to prosecutorial decisions.”

Commenting on the case being thrown out, Stonewall boss Nancy Kelley said: “We’re delighted to hear the judicial review against the Crown Prosecution Service and its membership to our Diversity Champions programme has not been granted.

“Far from causing ‘bias’, our Diversity Champions programme helps organisations like the CPS tackle the prejudice and discrimination LGBT+ staff face in their workplaces.

“By working with us, the CPS is working to ensure their LGBT+ staff are free from discrimination at work, and showing they care about creating an inclusive workplace. Yet, for doing so, they were made the target of an unfounded and baseless legal attack that misrepresents Stonewall’s work. It is not biased to make your workplace accepting of LGBT+ people.

“But this case exposes the hostility directed at employers who are working to improve the lives of their LGBT+ staff. It also highlights the disingenuous attempts to discourage public authorities not just from working with Stonewall, but from their delivering commitments to LGBT+ equality.”