The head of the equality watchdog has said she wants the body to “say less and do more” after she faced a coup from civil servants.
An investigation into Baroness Falkner de Margravine’s work as chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has been condemned by her allies as spurious, was suspended on Friday following a backlash from 54 peers and protests across the spectrum. political.
The officials had presented a file of 40 complaints for “intimidation”, “discrimination”, “harassment” and “lack of psychological safety”, directed both at the 68-year-old woman and at her board of 12 expert commissioners, who have powers in statute to make all its political decisions on the equality law.
After the suspension of the investigation was announced, Baroness Falkner issued a statement defending her plans for the EHRC to “advocate for the public interest” by turning the regulator from simply “a source of policy and advice” to “a sharper focus.” in the actual delivery.
She said: “The organization has been going through a transformation program to turn it from a source of policy and advice on a wide range of issues, to a more focused focus on actual delivery. To ‘say’ less and ‘do’ more”.
He thanked the public for having “shared their own experiences of injustice and injustice, which are humbling.”
The complaints began when the EHRC pivoted to resolve the transgender debate since Lady Falkner took office, even while taking critical gender views into account, angering trans activists.
Clarify refers to biological sex.
This included Lady Falkner advising ministers earlier this year to update the definition of ‘sex’ in the 2010 Equality Act to make it clear that it refers to biological sex, not self-ascribed identity.
On Friday, the EHRC “halted” the investigation that began in February, led by Gavin Mansfield KC, an employment lawyer, “while we seek legal advice on the impact of leaked confidential information,” adding in a statement: “We must ensure your integrity and is fair to all parties involved.
His allies called it a “junta victory over the Blob” and called on Marcial Boo, the EHRC’s chief executive, to resign over the dispute.
A source close to the EHRC said: “Now there is a feeling that their days are numbered. Clearly, Boo freaked out with some of the organization’s networking and then went after this witch hunt from her own chair. It’s now complete consensus that you need to find workarounds; he has totally lost the trust of the board and staff.
“Another senior executive personally devised the entire dossier against [Lady Falkner] These two men tried to oust this Muslim woman and she doesn’t look too good.
“Clearly there has been a concerted attempt to blame low staff satisfaction and poor staff retention on the board’s policy decisions rather than its own corporate performance.
“It’s just tragic. There was an elite group of people from EHRC who got together to organize how they would get rid of it and referred to themselves as ‘golden commando’. They came to a consensus opinion that the only way forward was to get a silk to do an investigation and give the silk all the evidence it would need to find her guilty.”
The dossier, which reportedly contained 40 vague allegations, lamented “the lack of psychological security, that is, the fear of who will be attacked next” and staff were “concerned that the commission is becoming an unsafe place to be.” work”. Another took issue with Baroness Falkner that she allegedly referred to a trans quiz show contestant as a “lipstick guy” at a board meeting, which allies of hers say was taken out of context.
It was leaked to Channel 4 News on Tuesday, and the show also spoke to more than 20 current and former employees claiming they were “puppets on strings… to deliver a Tory agenda” and review confidential documents.
This prompted 54 cross-party peers, including Lord Frost and Baron Roberts, to write to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, on Thursday to demand an investigation into the “irresponsible attack” which they said contained “emotional, one-sided” leaks. and baseless.”
There is no way to get a fair hearing
It also drew the fury of the inmates, who complained that there was now no way for her to get a fair hearing.
While the KC-led investigation cost taxpayers £100,000, Baroness Falkner had to pay tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees to defend herself.
An EHRC source said: “It is unclear to us whether this investigation can be carried out fairly or appropriately under the circumstances. It was known to be a confidential investigation to protect everyone and now there must be time to establish where these leaks come from and their ramifications.”
“Baroness Falkner was not involved in the decision to suspend the investigation.”
Ian Acheson, former EHRC COO until 2015, said: “This [suspension] it was the correct course of action. We cannot allow Britain’s rights regulator and its legitimate board authority to be subverted by ideological activism from within.”
In her statement, Baroness Falkner added that “to decide is to choose, carefully, about what our decisions mean for those affected,” adding: “I have enjoyed public service all my life and continue to do so with vigor and determination.”
An EHRC spokesperson said: “The Board has full confidence in our CEO, Marcial Boo, and we are working closely with him and his Executive Leadership Team to manage this fast-moving and sensitive situation.”
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