Nottingham City Council (NCC) apologises to Ms Bindel for instigating ‘unlawful procedure’
Elizabeth McGlone, Partner at didlaw acted for the well-known journalist and feminist Ms Bindel in her legal action against Nottingham City Council. Ms Bindel was due to speak at a women’s only event about feminism and violence against women at Apsley Library on 25 June 2022. Whilst already in transit to Nottingham, Ms Bindel was notified that the talk had been cancelled and would not take place. The talk had been organised by Nottingham Women for Change (NWC) and was cancelled at the last minute as a result of Ms Bindel’s ‘views on transgender rights.’ This is despite the fact that Ms Bindel was not scheduled to address the issue of transgender rights and had no intention of bringing this into her talk. NCC stated that Ms Bindel’s views on transgender rights ‘were at odds with its equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy’ despite never having actually asked Ms Bindel for her views or discussing the issue with her. The talk was cancelled without notice and had to be held in the carpark with the aid of a PA system.
Ms Bindel was not prepared to allow NCC to ‘de-platform’ her and instructed didlaw (alongside pre-eminent barristers Karon Monaghan KC, Akua Reindorf and Beth Grossman) to engage with NCC on a pre-action basis to highlight their unlawful conduct in cancelling the event based on Ms Bindel’s views. NCC was notified that Ms Bindel had potential claims under both the Equality Act 2010 (in respect of her protected beliefs), the European Convention on Human Rights (pertaining to freedom of thought, expression and peaceful assembly) and grounds for a judicial review in respect of NCC’s unlawful decision.
After three months of pre-action correspondence the parties reached agreement on mutually acceptable terms which included a statement made by NCC giving an apology to both Ms Bindel and to NWC for the upset caused and a recognition that its decision was procedurally unlawful. The apology and recognition was of the utmost importance to Ms Bindel given the way in which her legally held views had been vilified. she had been unfairly and unlawfully ‘de-platformed’ in a publicly hostile manner which was damaging and humiliating. NCC has agreed to retain the statement on its Twitter page for 12 months and, amongst other things, has also committed to undertake a review of its EDI strategy.
Didlaw was delighted to support Ms Bindel to achieve a just and deserved outcome in a situation where freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and legally held views were being deliberately suppressed and ignored. The Equality Act 2010 protects all protected characteristics equally and it is this balancing of rights that can cause problems when one group of people considers itself more worthy of protection than another. These protections are essential in a democratic society. This is something that didlaw is passionate about and committed to and is one of the reasons why it is recognised as a leading discrimination practice.