The misconduct investigation into the EHRC’s Kishwer Falkner was over before it even began

Kishwer Falkner of the EHRC
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Before it had even begun, a misconduct investigation into Kishwer Falkner – the chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – has been halted. The EHRC issued a statement on 26 May, saying that:

This investigation has been paused. This is while we seek legal advice on the impact of leaked confidential information. We must ensure its integrity and that it is fair to all parties concerned.

Staff at the equalities watchdog had put together a dossier of 40 alleged instances of their boss’s discrimination, harassment, bullying, and transphobia. These include referring to Emma Laslett – a trans disability activist and Mastermind contestant – as a “bloke in lipstick” during an official EHRC board meeting.

The news of the pause came just hours after 54 cross-party peers voiced support for Falkner. They called the claims “vexatious” and a “political chess game”.

Bullying and harassment in the EHRC

More broadly, the EHRC itself has also come under fire. Channel 4 collected statements citing a “lack of trust in the impartiality and independence of our Board” and “an increase in bullying, harassment and discrimination”. Marcial Boo, EHRC chief executive, responded by saying:

We treat allegations of bullying and harassment with the utmost seriousness, following the proper process, and instructing independent investigators where appropriate, in order to provide assurance to all parties concerned. It would be wrong to comment on specifics when investigations are ongoing.

She also claimed that the commission’s “annual turnover is in line with the average across the public sector”. This, however, may be difficult to believe. Fully one-quarter of staff left in 2022 alone, according to leaked figures.

Read on...

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VICE originally broke the story of the mass EHRC resignations back in April. In particular, the article highlighted seven high-profile figures leaving the organisation. These included a commissioner, an executive director, four directors, and a committee member.

One staff member told VICE:

It’s not difficult to draw a line between the letter that was sent by the commission to the government and employees leaving. People have been involved in the current publications, and been very unhappy, and they’ve been expressing their discomfort for a while, so clearly now enough is enough.

There has been no effort made to look for evidence on any actual real-life issues in relation to the policy of rights between (cis) women and trans people. And it just seems to be a case of going full-steam ahead without considering any evidence, and I think the commission is inflaming a culture war.

Another ex-staffer later said:

One paper was so heavily edited by Falkner that it left people speechless. She changed the case studies, the language… It was so transphobic, there was no way it would get published.

Independence under question

The claims that the EHRC lacks independence from the government echoed criticism levelled at the watchdog recently by Stonewall and other queer advocacy groups. In answer, an EHRC spokesperson stated:

We take all decisions impartially, based on evidence and the law, both in the UK and internationally.

Our independence is guaranteed in statute.

The way the EHRC is governed, and Commissioners appointed, is set out in the Equality Act and has not changed since the Commission was established.

However, this assertion is questionable at best. In recent years, the EHRC has been toeing very close to the Tories’ distinctly transphobic party line. Coincidentally, Falkner took over the commission in 2020. According to research collective The Trans Safety Network, she quickly made opposing trans rights an “early priority” in her work.

Most recently, at the behest of Kemi Badenoch, the organisation offered advice on removing a huge swathe of protections from the Equality Act.

Regarding this advice, an independent UN expert accused the EHRC of offering the government a ‘formula to discriminate’ against trans people. The EHRC replied:

It is disappointing that trans people are being given the message that the potential change would make it impossible for them to live their day to day lives safely and with dignity. Such unfounded remarks simply generate more fear and concern among a community that already experiences too much discrimination.

Again, though, the criticisms were far from “unfounded”. The potential effects on trans people’s lives are both clear and wide-ranging. Most obviously, it would strip the legal protections provided to trans people according to their lived genders.

Spot the trans activist

The Telegraph reported the pausing of the investigation as following:

a growing backlash over an attempted coup by trans-activist civil servants.

It should not be forgotten that these civil servants signed up to work at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. When they did so, they presumably thought that their labour would contribute to the advancement of those same human rights. Though it is increasingly clear that many members of the UK government disagree, trans people are included among the category of humans.

The fact that human rights workers can be brushed off wholesale precisely because they are trying to advance human rights would be laughable, were it not so sickening. British society has reached a point where any attempt to prevent the destruction of existing trans protections makes one a trans activist. Then, in turn, being a trans activist means that one can be ignored.

A foregone conclusion

This applies across over and over. The results of the consultation on self-ID were ignored because they were overwhelmingly favourable. Officials claimed they were “skewed by an avalanche of responses generated by trans rights groups”.

The census says there are too many trans people, so the census must be wrong.

Trans activists are a “savage… mob” when they criticise a singer online. On the other hand, a hate campaigner who attracts literal salute-snapping Nazis to her rallies is a “women’s rights activist”.

And, of course, critics of trans clinics like Tavistock are reported as “whistleblowers”. But the whistleblowers at the EHRC are partisan trans activists.

You know what? Keep your fucking investigation. Even if it had found that Falkner was a bully and a transphobe, the government that appointed her would have clapped anyway. There can be no fair hearing for trans people or their allies in the UK.

All of this was a foregone conclusion.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Roger Harris, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, resized to 1910*1000. 

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  • Show Comments
    1. It should be noted that this is similar to things that happened a few years ago in the Labour Party. There, a lot of activists resigned, stating that “antisemitism” was the reason. There were just as trenchant criticisms, just as many “whistleblowers”, similar accusation that the party had lost its way under the new leadership, etc. But that was all rubbish, right? A group of people with their own agenda trying to discredit the Labour Party and turn it into a party more faithful to their own agenda. Which was, unfortunately, largely successful.

      But now, we’re expected to believe that THIS time, it’s real. That these people who resigned don’t have any agenda of their own (although the author admits that they did, at one point). That these leaks are ironclad and real (unlike the leaks the whistleblowers produced about Labour’s “antisemitism”) And so on. We’re told that a quarter of the staff have left, as though this was unchallenged fact, rather than a dodgy statistic based on unseen documents leaked to Penis News that, even according to Penis News, only “suggest” this conclusion (which has been denied by the EHRC). In short, all the dodgy stats and misrepresentations that were used against Labour 4 years ago are here, but this time we’re supposed to believe them. 7 high ranking figures have resigned, citing “transphobia”? Didn’t 7 Labour MPs resign in 2019 and form their own party, citing “antisemitism”?

      Ultimately, we have a clash in values here, just as we did with Labour 4 years ago. Do you think that people can change sex? Do you think that women can have penises? Do you think there’s no conflict between so-called trans rights and women’s rights? If so, then you might be disturbed by Kishwer Falkner’s leadership of the EHRC, just as much as Labour Friends of Israel were disturbed by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and with just as much reason.

      Most women, however, would beg to differ, just as most Labour party members did 4 years ago. Most women would say that people can’t change sex. That so-called “transwomen” are men. That men do not belong in women’s spaces and that forcing their presence there is an assault on women’s rights, an assault supported by a large amount of the left, who really ought to know better. That the EHRC is doing its job in upholding the rights of women after many years of not doing so (again like the Labour Party under Corbyn).

      This comment is likely not to be printed and will likely get me banned. Silencing and expulsion of dissenting voices is another tactic you’ve picked up from Starmer’s Labour party.

      1. Strange, don’t you think, that Jeremy Corbyn, for all his deep flaws (none of which included antisemitism) and his absurd dedication to a party whose executive hated him, managed to attract vast numbers of enthusiastic young people who, clearly, wanted a more socialist Labour party and a socialist government?

        Also strange that your hatred of trans and non-binary people is, clearly, not one shared by many ordinary people. The Women’s Institute, for example, is an organisation that has long welcomed trans women into its ranks as equals. You have been sold lies: that trans people are a threat to women, that they claim they can ‘change their biological sex’ (no-one claims that) and that ‘most women’ are disturbed by the limited freedoms currently permitted of trans people. Trans rights are also women’s rights, and are also human rights.

        The EHRC is a right-wing, Tory front organisation, well-funded and with a dangerous agenda of removing the progress made by the Left on liberation for LGBT+ people. Do you think that destroying the lives of trans people is all they want? As their ideological mentors in the USA are showing, next are abortion rights, inter-racial marriage, all the advances made by women as a whole… Perhaps that is your agenda too.

    2. Corbyn attracted people because he spoke to a need that was being ignored. Which is why he was so popular and, ultimately, why a large group of pro-establishment people sought, successfully, to bring him down with lies, half-truths, misleading and inaccurate statistics and constant accusations of “antisemitism”, none of which had any substance behind them though, as often is the case with these things, those making the accusations could produce “evidence” on demand that seemed convincing until looked closely into.

      The grass roots movement to defend women’s rights (Let Women Speak, the LGB Alliance, Transgender Trend, Standing for Women, etc) attracts people because they speak to a need that is being ignored. Which is why it’s so popular and, ultimately, why a large group of Men’s Rights Activists are seeking to bring it down with lies, half-truths, misleading and inaccurate statistics and constant accusations of “transphobia”, none of which have any substance behind them though, as often is the case with these things, those making the accusations can produce “evidence” on demand that seemed convincing until looked closely into.

      My “hatred of trans people” – if by that you mean the desire to protect women’s rights from those who seek to destroy them – is shared by most people and most women. YouGov polls constantly show that most people and, more significantly, most women, do not want so-called “transwomen” in their spaces (once it’s made clear that most so-called “transwomen” still have male genitalia). And this number is only growing as people (and women especially) become more and more aware of this assault on their rights. “Trans rights” are not women’s rights. Nor are they human rights – name one of the 14 rights in the ECHR that trans people are denied. They’re not even trans rights. They’re a series of demands by men to exercise their male privilege to destroy women’s rights and invade women’s spaces. When thwarted in this, they respond, as the UN have pointed out, with intimidation and threats of assault, rape and murder. In short, like typically abusive men. Rape Culture at its worse, the more so because many so-called leftists, “antifa” and “anarchists” support them in this. But it was ever thus. Leftists men have a blind spot when it comes to women’s rights.

      Or they’ll exhibit the most ridiculous temper tantrums like spoilt children. Emily “hyper-hyperbole” Bridges, a man who’s been cheating women out of medals for years, accused British Cycling of committing genocide when they ruled he couldn’t cheat any more but had to compete in the same category as other men. This was not only ludicrous and ridiculous, but offensive to real victims of genocide. Imagine a Rohinga woman and a Tutsi woman talking about the Genocide in the UK because spoilt, entitled men have been denied their right to cheat!

      The EHRC is a government quango that has a duty to uphold the rights of all the PCs mentioned in the Equality Act. There is clearly a conflict between men asserting their “right” as so-called “transwomen” to invade women’s spaces, enter women’s sports (thereby cheating their way to victory) and so on, and the rights of women to privacy, dignity and equal treatment. The EHRC, for too many years, ignored this conflict and pretended, like most left wing men, that it didn’t exist. But now they’re acknowledging the conflict and doing their job. If that upsets people who prioritise the rights of men over the rights of women, I won’t shed any tears over that. Nor will most women.

      Finally, you indulge in Conspiracy Theories, because you’re too afraid to accept the truth. So we’re all deluded fools, unable to think and come to our own conclusions about these matters. Instead, we’ve been taken in by our right wing “mentors” in the US, who intend to strip women of their rights after defending them against trans people? Horseshit. Not a shred of evidence. The truth that you’re too much of a coward to face is that we are Women, we’re Angry and we’re Fighting Back. We’re a grass roots movement and you can’t stand that.

      But we are. We’re here, and we’re not going away. We’re only getting stronger and, every time a spoilt child like Emily Bridges throws a tantrum, more and more women see your Men’s Rights Movement for what it is. You’re going to lose this. And those left wing organisations and so-called “anarchists” and “antifa” who fought women to push Men’s Rights – we will remember.

      1. The well-funded right-wing organisations, corporate and people behind the anti-trans ‘movement’ as you misleadingly label this assault on basic rights are not popular at all in the UK. The LGB Alliance, for example, is a tiny grouplet which, contrary to its name, has displayed no interest in furthering the rights of LGB people, most of whom vocally and happily speak out for the rights of trans and non-binary people, but only in attacking trans people. It is effectively a hate group – praised in the filthy, racist, ruling class Spectator magazine – just like the other organisations you support in reducing the rights of that small and deeply vulnerable proportion of the population who are trans or non-binary.

        Your vile assertions that trans women and men are all potential rapists is not supported with evidence. Trans and non binary people are exactly like anyone else: some behave well, some behave badly. Just like you. The fact that your reply uses ‘left wing’ as a term of abuse shows your political standpoint. I’m proud to be a revolutionary socialist. Why aren’t you?

        It is sad that you, Ms Gladvert, have succumbed to the far-right’s campaign against trans people, a campaign in the US which is headed by such great feminists as Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and Greg Abbott. Perhaps those are your heroes and inspirations. They are not mine. Whether trans and non-binary win or lose against you and the hate-filled groups you mistakenly admire is down to us, the working class, as always. Socialists support women, support men and support LGBT+ people. Solidarity forever!

        1. I only use left wing as a term of abuse when it comes to “left wing” poseurs, people cosplaying as “antifa” or “anarchists”, most of whom come from a middle class background. Which can be seen in the contemptuous and patronising way they treat working class women who call them on their horseshit. The most common response from these Men’s Rights Activists are that working class women are too stupid to understand the complexities of higher biology. As Chomsky pointed out when commenting on Postmodernism, that’s horseshit (Chomsky was too polite to put it quite like that, but it’s the gist of what he said). Everything – higher level quantum physics, for example – can be explained in layman’s terms (Stephen Hawking does just that). But we’re supposed to believe that the new “scientific truths” about biology invented by postmodernist philosophers who don’t have a Biology A level between them are more complex than Quantum Physics and most ordinary women are too stupid to understand them. Horseshit. We understand them perfectly, but we can recognise horseshit when we see it.

          “Transwomen”, so-called, are men. Always have been, always will be. Anything else is just horseshit. Women don’t have penises. Sex is binary and immutable – nobody can change sex. And the sex and gender bait and switch is horseshit too. The truth is, and you’re terrified of this, most women see through your horseshit. Come to a Let Women Speak event sometime and actually LISTEN. Ordinary women telling the stories of their lives, talking about how these men have invaded and destroyed spaces and rights they thought were secure.

          YouGov polls consistently show that most women support us. Oh, they’ll say they support so-called “trans rights” – it’s such a vague term I’d agree with it if I didn’t know what you really mean by it. But when it comes to a concrete example – like are women OK with letting men with dicks into their toilets and changing rooms – Women say No. Always have done. Always will do. But entitled misogynist men don’t like being told No. And they react, like men always have done, with violence, threats, intimidation and contempt.

          All our movements are grass roots ordinary women sick of the horseshit you’re trying to get us to swallow. The LGB Alliance represents Gay and Lesbian people sick of being told, by people like the head of Stonewall, that a lesbian who doesn’t like a man with a dick is akin to a racist. It’s horseshit, and I think even you know it – you’ve retreated from “cotton ceiling” workshops as that was too obviously Male Entitlement and Rape Culture. Now you’re more subtle, trying to guilt trip lesbian women into having sex with men by calling them bigots and comparing them to racists if they say that they’re lesbians and therefore don’t like dick. You’re the ones peddling a new homophobia, just when we’d got to a point where our rights were becoming more settled. (I understand gay men have similar problems with so-called “transmen”, but I can’t speak to that).

          As for evidence that “trans women and men are all potential rapists” – something that used to be a relatively accepted feminist truth – the evidence is in the ONS statistics on Sexual Assault. 99% of people who commit Sexual Assault are men. Including so-called “transwomen” who actually are 5 times more likely to be in jail for Sexual Assault than other men. And most of their victims are women.

          This isn’t to say that all so-called “transwomen” are all rapists, any more than we can say that about other men. But it’s enough for us to demand our own spaces and resist the invasion of men into those spaces, even if they’re wearing a frock. ESPECIALLY if they’re wearing a frock.

          Finally, I’m proud to be an anarchist, a real anarchist, not the “anarchist” poseurs we see trying to silence women and defend violent, misogynist men pursuing a Men’s Rights Agenda. I’m following in the footsteps of Emma Goldman. Who was a terf.

          We are Women. Hear us Roar. And be Afraid. Be very Afraid.

          1. You can brag about your macho credentials as much as you like. You’re still on the same side as Donald Trump and the Tories. Your vicious attacks on trans and non-binary people, including children, put you in the vanguard of the campaigns by the far right to destroy the social progress made over many decades. Basically, you’re being used… or you genuinely want to roll back the rights of working class people.

            1. Except we’re not. They’re on the same side as us. There’s a difference. This is not a far right campaign and we’re not in the vanguard of it. This is OUR movement, OUR agenda, it’s a grass roots movement of ordinary women, no matter what politicians jump on the bandwagon. It’s looking increasingly likely that Starmer’s Labour is going to start singing from our songsheet too, but that won’t make it Labour’s movement either. It’s OURS. Nobody’s using us.

              You know all this, of course. That’s why you’re terrified of us. You could deal with Trump, the Tories, the Far Right. But ordinary women calling you on your misogynist, horseshit? We’re your worst nightmare. Because it’s YOU who want to roll back the rights of working class women and set back the social progress of decades. But it’s not going to happen. Women say NO. Get used to it.

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