Stonewall ‘malicious’ in legal fight against Allison Bailey, tribunal hears

Stonewall has been “high-handed and malicious” in its ongoing legal fight against a gender critical barrister, her lawyer has told the final day of an employment tribunal.

The barrister Allison Bailey is suing her chambers, Garden Court, and the LGBTQ+ charity. She claims she was offered lower-quality work after she voiced her opposition to the nationwide Stonewall diversity champion scheme when it was announced at her chambers in December 2018. Stonewall’s programme provides advice and assessments for inclusive workplaces.

Bailey said she was asked by her chambers to delete two tweets criticising the LGBTQ+ charity’s position on trans rights, which Stonewall had complained about. She refused to do so.

In closing submissions on the final day of the four-week long tribunal on Monday, Bailey’s lawyer, Ben Cooper QC, said Stonewall had tried to get the tribunal to reject her claim.

Cooper told the employment judge Sarah Goodman that GCC and Stonewall had attempted to frame Bailey as waging a “political campaign” against the charity, founded in 1989, rather than a legitimate complaint.

“[They] mount an extraordinary attack on this tribunal for ‘indulging the claimant’s claim and the evidence she’s given to support this’, and do so in a way that implies a degree of pressure … to encourage this tribunal to reject the claim for fear of being seen to have assisted the claimant too much,” Cooper said.

He told the tribunal that the alleged approach was “characteristic of the high-handed, malicious and oppressive way in which they have dealt with this litigation”, as well as “issues before the litigation”.

Goodman replied: “We’re pretty thick-skinned, so we’re just going to look at the facts and the evidence.”

Stonewall accused Bailey of being “literally the author of her own misfortune” and in written submissions said she gave “self-serving and evasive” evidence and “failed to take responsibility for her actions and the consequences which flowed from them”.

“Her ignorant, inflammatory and ill-judged social media posts generated complaints which her chambers was obliged to investigate,” it said.

In 2019 Bailey co-founded the LGB Alliance group – an organisation for lesbian, gay and bisexual people to provide an alternative to Stonewall and which opposes its policies on transgender issues – and tweeted in support of its launch.

Bailey claims that the tweet attracted online abuse, including death threats, “memes with firearms” in them and messages accusing her of being a “terf” – an acronym of the term “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”.

Within 48 hours, her chambers had posted a tweet saying Bailey was under investigation. The tribunal was told that this gave credence to internet “trolls” who accused her of being transphobic.

Cooper argued on Monday that Bailey’s chambers “sought to downplay that abuse” and breached a confidentiality obligation by announcing she was under investigation.

“Not only was the response tweet sent out in breach of the confidentiality obligation, but it was sent out without even the courtesy of a heads-up from heads of chambers,” he said.

In response, GCC’s barrister, Andrew Hochhauser, said that any response from the chambers had not deterred Bailey in her tweeting.


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