Having been sued twice by the same conman, I have become something of an aficionado of the quiet legal language that deals the death of a thousand cuts. Dennis Kavanagh’s letter to the laughably named Good Law Project is a masterpiece in the genre so I asked for permission to reproduce it here. My thanks to him.
Good Law Project Limited
For the attention of: Ms Shameem Ahmad, Mr Rupert Henry Davies Evans, Mr Mathew John Lodge, Ms Susan Michelle Morgan, Mr Justin Gareth Walters Stewart, The Lord Wood, Mr Jolyon Toby Dennis Maugham QC
Mermaids (a charity registered in England and Wales no. 1160575) –and– LGB Alliance (a charity registered in England and Wales no.1194148)
1. I write to you in your capacity as the previous and current directors of Good Law Project Limited, a company limited by guarantee and incorporated in England and Wales (company no. 10556197) (the “Company”) in connection with an appeal which I understand has been made to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) (the “FtT”) by Mermaids against LGB Alliance (“LGBA”) (the “Mermaids litigation”), and “supported” by the Company along with others.
2. The purpose of that appeal appears to be to challenge the charitable status accorded to LGBA by nthe Charity Commission (the “Commission”) pursuant to the Commission’s statutory powers under the Charities Act 1993.2 While the Company’s precise role in the Mermaids litigation as a “supporter” is not immediately clear to me from the material publicly available, from what I have read it seems to me that, in addition to publicly campaigning on behalf of Mermaids, the Company appears to have adopted a role as a third-party litigation funder for the Mermaids
litigation through the Crowdfunder website CrowdJustice. Elsewhere, your Company is described as Mermaids’ “lawyers” in the Mermaids litigation, which seems odd to me because, according to the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority website, your Company does not appear to be authorised to conduct litigation in England and Wales, and nor do you appear to be authorised to conduct direct access work by the Bar Standards Board. It is also odd because your Company’s CrowdJustice page suggests “we” have instructed Bindmans to act as solicitors, and Michael Gibbon QC and Ted Loveday as Counsel. By “we”, do you mean your Company and those with whom you are listed as supporters of Mermaids, or do you mean Mermaids itself? I invite you to
publicly clarify precisely what role your Company has in the Mermaids litigation so that you “speak the truth and act with integrity” as your Company’s website promotes.
3. Information publicly available from Companies House suggests that each of you were or are directors of the Company when decisions were taken by the Company in respect of Mermaids’ application, and it is in that capacity in which I write to you. I am a gay man, and since its launch in February this year I have been the legal correspondent for the electronic newspaper Lesbian and Gay News. I am not a member of or affiliated to LGBA, but I support its work and its ethos and, having read your Company’s recent publicity about Mermaids’ application to the FtT
challenging the Commission’s decision to grant LGBA charity status I feel compelled to write to you to point why your support of Mermaids’ application is problematic and why the application itself is misconceived. More particularly, I hold grave concerns as to (i) your Company’s apparent targeting of LGBA, (ii) the strength of Mermaids’ case, (iii) the funding model your Company has adopted, (iv) the degree to which your Company’s public statements are in reality proxies for Mermaids and, it seems, Stonewall (another English charity) which appear to be purposefully
aimed to circumvent the Commission’s jurisdiction, and (v) the wider effect your Company’s public campaign is having on LGBT people and the tone of LGBT politics. I was moved to write this letter following private communications from transgendered (“Trans”) people with whom I disagree on the gender debate but who were nonetheless distressed at the pronouncements of your former director Mr Maugham on Twitter on 20 August 20217 and the ensuing rancorous and unpleasant social media discussion it provoked. Although Mr Maugham appears to have resigned as a director of the Company, he appears to be its public face and authorised to speak for and on
behalf of the Company. Again, in order to reflect your Company’s stated aim to “speak the truth and act with integrity”, I invite your Company to confirm precisely what role Mr Maugham has in connection with the Company, and (given he is no longer an officer of the Company) whether his public pronouncements are intended by the Company to reflect and bind the Company’s position. Given Mr Maugham’s public pronouncements and visible association with your Company, like many I have proceeded on the basis that he is the public face of your Company and that he is authorised to speak for and on behalf of, and to bind, your Company.
4. I raised a number of these queries with your Company’s Twitter account on 20 August 20219 but to date I have received no answer. I hardly need make the point that this seems a counter intuitive position when dealing with a company which often speaks about transparency and accountability.
I hope very much this letter provides an opportunity for your Company (and for you as the Company’s guiding mind and will) to pause and think carefully about the course you are taking and what effect your support of Mermaids’ litigation and your public campaign against LGBA is having on LGBT people. It is not at all clear to me from publicly available information whether any of you are LGBT, and so I ask that you particularly bear this in mind when considering the issues I raise.
5. While many of the points I make in this letter are matters of law and matters of evidence, I urge you as the Company’s directors to also take on board what I say here about the reality of the lives of LGBT people who are caught up in the middle of an extremely difficult and turbulent debate, particularly on social media. Whenever Mermaids chooses to draw this litigation to a close (if the FtT does not do so beforehand), we as LGBT people will be left to forge a path as minorities and it matters desperately how this debate is conducted and in what tone. I regret to say that the tone of your grounds of appeal, CrowdJustice website and social media output are of great concern. So, while I write to you as directors and urge you to attend to your fiduciary duties to your Company, (i.e. to ensure you act in its best interests), I am also writing to you as human beings in an attempt to demonstrate to you that this litigation is hopeless, irregular, far from transparent and likely to cause damage to LGBT people.
6. For your ease of reference and convenience, at paragraphs 8-24 below I examine Mermaids’ grounds of appeal (publicised through your Company’s CrowdJustice page10) and argue that its case is hopeless and pleaded in a manner offensive to free speech and the principle that LGB people should be allowed to politically organise as they see fit. At paragraphs 25-34, I invite your Company to review the text of its CrowdJustice page which features unjustified attacks on freedom of speech and a baseless conspiratorial attack on the Commission. At paragraphs 35-37, I ask that your Company offers some transparency as to why it is involved at all when Mermaids
(as a charity of some substantial financial standing) could simply have pursued this matter. At paragraphs 38-40 I make comments as to the recent social media output from your Company (via Mr Maugham) which seems to me to be purposefully designed to cause anxiety, rancour and distress.
7. You may or may not be aware that, in the debate that the Mermaids litigation centres around and draws from, there is a fundamental and polarised dispute over so-called “gender ideology” that has found traction within mainstream gay charities. The “gender ideologists” seek to redefine homosexuality as “same gender attraction” and a belief in immutable “gender identity”. This redefining of what many LGB people believe is at the very heart of their being inevitably led to the establishment of LGBA as a voice for those whom the mainstream charities have cast aside. LGBA defines homosexuality as it is in law under s.12 of the Equality Act 2010 provides as
same-sex attraction and rooted in biological reality.
Mermaids’ grounds of appeal
8. I wish to raise with you the fundamental problems with Mermaids’ grounds of appeal that your Company and others readily associate with as supporters. It is only right that I do so given that you as directors of the Company may not have heard views that do not deviate from the misconceptions that underpin the Mermaids’ litigation.
9. Mermaids’ grounds of appeal makes criticism at paragraph 7 of beliefs which it ascribes to LGBA. At 7.1, Mermaids accuse the LGBA of being prepared to treat trans people in a manner that is hostile, degrading or humiliating. No evidence is offered for this serious claim. On 20 August 2021 the Commission considered just such a claim. At paragraph 35 of the Commission’s decision, the suggestion was comprehensively rejected and Trans support for LGBA is a matter of public record available on a cursory social media search. This allegation is a baseless slur. It does nothing to heal a divide in gay politics, rather the opposite. Your Company, as a supporter of Mermaids (and, apparently, as its “lawyers”), ought to counsel Mermaids to withdraw this, as
accusing others of hostility, degradation and humiliation in legal pleadings in this fashion is not in accordance with the Commission’s codes of conduct, nor is it fair or proper.
10. At paragraph 7.2, an implied criticism of LGBA is made to the effect that its focus on same-sex attracted people excludes Trans people. Noting could be further from reality. This is a remarkable position to take given your Company represents/acts as third-party litigation funder for Mermaids, a exclusively Trans charity which by the logic of your grounds “excludes” LGB people. Plainly it cannot be right or fair to apply that logic to your opponent but not your client or, at least, those whom your Company supports.
11. It is also of great concern to homosexuals like me and bisexuals that your Company appears to have a public position on how we may, and may not, politically organise. That concern is only heightened by the fact that your (apparently) heterosexual former director Mr Maugham appears (from available social media) to be the driving force behind this matter. I would very much hope that your Company would agree that homosexual and bisexual people should be allowed to politically organise without the permission or direction of your Company.
12. The matter raised in paragraph 7.2 is, in any event, a very poor point in law given s.193 of the Equality Act 2010. Mermaids provides no authority for the suggestion that LGB people may only organise in a particular way that meets with its (and, I gather, your Company’s) approval, and it is very difficult to see how Mermaids could possibly persuade a tribunal that this should be the case. For your assistance, excerpted below is the Commission findings as a matter of law that a beneficial category of same-sex attracted only persons is perfectly legitimate (see paragraphs 26- 28 of the decision):
“26. Section 193 of the Equality Act provides an exemption from the prohibitions in that Act where benefits are restricted by reference to persons sharing a protected characteristic in pursuance of a charitable instrument, and where this is either a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim or is for the purpose of preventing or compensating for a disadvantage linked to the protected characteristic.
27. The issue is whether the pursuit of ostensibly charitable objects (promoting the human rights of those who face discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and educating the public about equality and diversity of those persons) would necessarily infringe the Equality Act and discriminate against people who share a particular protected characteristic (those who consider that their gender identity might not correlate to the gender they were assigned at birth).
28. Promoting equality and human rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people is not
unlawful or contrary to public policy. A purpose of promoting the equality and human
rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people is not inherently discriminatory and does not
necessarily have the effect of inhibiting the rights of transgender people.”
13. At paragraph 7.3 of the grounds Mermaids makes an implied complaint that LGBA had identified that “a range of government bodies and charities in the UK” (which I take to be a coded reference to Stonewall) are spreading misinformation about the Equality Act 2010 and medical issues associated with gender. In respect of Stonewall, the fact that charity has done precisely that is a matter of public record and you may be assisted by reading the Reindorf Report into Essex the University of Essex. In respect of Mermaids, the debate as to whether (mainly gay) children ought to be lifelong medical patients on the basis of their “gender identity” is a live and vital one
and LGBA are entitled to make the claim that the “gender identity” theory is wrong. Exercising freedom of speech in opposition to the theory of “gender identity” is protected by s.9 of the Equality Act 2010 as the Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed in Forstater v CGD Europe,
It is very difficult to see how Mermaids could possibly persuade the FtT on this point that (i) persons may not point to established facts about Stonewall, and (ii) persons
may not have a debate about gender identity. Further silencing criticism and discussion does seem somewhat contrary to your Company’s published raison d’etre.
14. At paragraph 8.2, Mermaids claims the “true construction” of the above beliefs is to “restrict the legal rights and protections afforded to transgender people”. This is, in my view, an extreme claim, and I wondered if you knew precisely what right or protection Mermaids is referring to? Telling Trans people a charity wants to remove their rights is a very serious charge, it must also be frightening for Trans people to hear. It should not be an insult thrown around as part of a campaign. This claim appears to me to be wholly without merit, if that is the case your Company
should ask Mermaids to reconsider it.
15. At paragraph 8.3, Mermaids criticises LGBA for expressing the view that Mermaids may be incorrect regarding the existence of an innate “gender identity”. Mermaids pleads that point by using the phrase “spreading misinformation”. Any person, charity, or party is entitled in a democracy to disagree with Mermaids. Supressing and forbidding protected speech is not a feature of a normal functioning democracy based on pluralism and free expression. It is of grave concern your Company appears to support Mermaids’ pleaded appeal to encourage others to
believe the contrary and it seems most unlikely that this suggestion will find favour with the FtT.
16. At paragraphs 9.1 to 9.4, Mermaids makes a general complaint of the fact members of LGBA do not believe in “gender ideology”. There is obviously no state-mandated belief in any ideology in this country, nor would such a thing be a normal feature of a democracy. The statements attributed to Ms Harris and Ms Jackson are protected speech. Accordingly, the following points are puzzling to say the least; your Company is notionally focused on free speech, accountability and transparency but here it seems to be regulating or, at the least, criticising the free speech of two lesbians.
17. At paragraph 9.5, Mermaids makes criticism of the actions of LGBA as not engaging in education, human rights or education. It is very difficult to understand how this is a criticism of the decision Mermaids seeks to appeal, namely the registration of the charity. Any tribunal is likely to find that it is entirely reasonable to suspect that a company (as LGBA was prior to its registration as a charity) might solely be focused on registration (particularly in the teeth of fierce opposition campaigning from Mermaids and your co-supporters, and Mermaids’ former supporter Stonewall). The FtT might well also remark that Mermaids is not well placed to make an assessment of how well an LGB charity serves the beneficiaries of its objects. Anecdotal social media evidence suggests LGBA has sustained and substantial public support from and beyond its direct beneficiaries.
18. At paragraph 9.6, Mermaids makes a number of criticisms of what LGBA has said/done in respect of it and Stonewall. This is the first time in these grounds Stonewall is mentioned by name. Stonewall (apart from its brief appearance on your Company’s CrowdJustice page on the day of launch but then its unexplained disappearance) is not (apparently) a supporter of this appeal, which is puzzling given its public stance on the underlying issues. It is very strange indeed then
to see your Company apparently speak on Stonewall’s behalf. Some transparency from your Company about what is going on here would assist. You may think the public have every right to know whether your Company is acting as proxy for Stonewall or not. It seems unlikely that Stonewall would allow grounds such as these to remain in the public domain if it did not support them, but as Mermaids’ “lawyers” and/or supporter and Crowdfunder, your Company may wish to be straightforward and transparent about this matter in accordance with its publicised objectives. You will be aware the Commission asks that charities focus upon their charitable objectives, rather than spend time and energy attacking others. It does rather appear that
Stonewall through Mermaids’ grounds is circumventing that by using Mermaids and/or your Company as a proxy. Your Company may wish to consider how the FtT is likely to view such devices, and whether it is in anyway fair to the people donating to Mermaids’ cause to engage in an arrangement which has an irregular appearance of this kind.
19. So far as Mermaids does purport to speak for Stonewall (see paragraphs 9.6.1, 9.6.3, 9.6.7 and 9.6.8 of the grounds of appeal), Mermaids effectively seeks to put Stonewall’s “champions” scheme beyond criticism and claims it is being undermined by LGBA. This rather ignores national news over the last few months. As you may be aware, the Rt Hon. Elizabeth Truss MP has encouraged all departments of HM Government to leave the Stonewall scheme and many public and private bodies have left the scheme over the past few months. The Reindorf report into Essex University explicitly encouraged the University to consider very carefully leaving the scheme and to examine the “disbenefits”. It does rather seem that Mermaids' position and your
Company’s support of it amounts to the view that the scheme should be beyond criticism. That position is difficult to reconcile with your Company’s professed belief in transparency and freedom of speech. As the “champions” scheme being an important revenue raiser for Stonewall, this paragraph does rather suggest that Mermaids is acting as a proxy for the financial concerns of Stonewall without acting for it or being engaged in any legal relationship with it. That speaks to a friendship and arrangements behind closed doors the kind your Company normally deprecates.
20. To the extent that Mermaids makes similar complaints (paragraphs 9.6.2, 9.6.3, 9.6.4, 9.6.5, 9.6.6, 9.6.8), how are the concerns advanced by LGBA any different to the enquiries of the High Court in Bell v Tavistock? A vital public debate is taking place over whether (mainly gay) gender non-conforming children are being misdiagnosed as transgender and placed on a pathway to lifelong medical treatment. As a company you may not fully understand the degree to which same-sex attracted adults are grievously and genuinely concerned about this matter. LGB people have the same concerns as the High Court did in paragraphs 32 to 33 of Bell v Tavistock, namely an unexplained rise in female and autistic patients. Your grounds seem to suggest that same-sex
attracted persons cannot discuss these development through their charity. It is again, very difficult to reconcile this injunction regarding forbidden topics for gay/bi-sexual people with your Company’s purported principles of openness, transparency and free speech.
21. At paragraph 11.1, Mermaids argues that a non-belief in gender ideology is a political purpose insufficient for charity status. At paragraph 11.2, Mermaids argues that there is no “common understanding of enlightened opinion” that homosexuality is in fact same-sex rather than gender attraction. At paragraph 11.3, Mermaids makes the claim that same-sex attraction being defined as same-sex is contrary to public policy and legislation. This is a rather bold claim in the face of 40 years of EHCR caselaw describing homosexuality in such terms and s.12 of the Equality Act
2010 which, in saying that homosexuality is same-sex attraction, does precisely this. The effect of this argument is to essentially close down debate and to say that same-sex people can only have a charity if they agree with Mermaids. Forgive my bluntness, but to me this sounds dangerously close to homophobia because bi/homosexual people are apparently being singled out and told what charities they may and may not have. In supporting Mermaids, your Company is picking on one class of people (to which I belong) and prescribing beliefs we may or not have. Further, Mermaids is describing who I am, and claiming there is no common understanding in law of my protected characteristic of homosexuality. I would urge your Company, on a human level if nothing else, to consider very carefully if this is really a submission it should publicly support. I am perfectly happy that s.12 of the Equality Act 2010 (and LGBA) accurately describes me.
22. At paragraph 12, Mermaids makes what can only be described as a bizarre submission. It claims that having a charity for LGB people who are not Trans is “restricted capriciously” and, more sinisterly, “does not accord with public policy”. Gay charities have (thankfully) existed for many years without people saying they are “restricted capriciously” and having their status removed. One example would be GMFA (Gay Men Fighting AIDS). Gay and bisexual people organising is not a capricious restriction. It is the coming together of people around the shared characteristic of same-sex attraction. Mermaids’ suggestion this does not accord with public policy is hopelessly wrong and, you may think on careful scrutiny of Mermaids’ grounds of appeal, capable of causing serious offence to bisexual and homosexual people.
23. Mermaids’ submissions on standing make a number of points that are difficult to reconcile with the law in this area. Section 319 and Schedule 6 of the Charities Act 2011 regulates standing for the bringing of appeals and require a person to be “affected by” the registration decision. Mermaids claims at paragraph 14.1 tax benefits, registration and access to grants are somehow a disbenefit to registration. You will be aware this cannot afford a proper ground of objection following the test set out by Lord Carlile QC in R (International Peace Project 2000) v Charity
Commission for England and Wales  EWHC Admin 3446. At paragraph 14.2 Mermaids claims it will suffer financial loss. There is no evidence for this claim, nor does it appear to satisfy the test in s.319, which requires that a legal right is affected. Mermaids has no legal right to funds that private citizen might otherwise donate to LGBA. In any event, the submission does not make sense given donors to LGBA and Mermaids are likely to fundamentally disagree with the position taken by the other charity. At paragraph 14.3, Mermaids reserve the right to develop submissions
as to standing which is unsurprising given the obvious hurdles it faces.
24. In view of the above, it is very difficult to see a proper path made out in fact or law. In every case, the lawyers retained on behalf of a party will provide an “advice on merits”, i.e., a solicitor’s and/or barrister’s view of whether a party will succeed or not. You are said to be Mermaids’ lawyers. Your Company’s CrowdJustice fundraising for the Mermaids litigation now exceeds £60,000. Mermaids might take the view on reflection that it should publicly provide such advice to potential donors in the interests of transparency, particularly given the unusual funding
arrangements involved in this case. It would plainly be quite wrong to pursue a case where Mermaids is at risk of an adverse costs order (and, potentially, your Company as a third-party funder) or strike out without that information being clear to donors.
Issues regarding the text of your Company’s CrowdJustice page
25. I have already brought to your attention the fact that the Commission naturally discourages charities from attacking one another as this is obviously not in the public interest and attacks of that kind are a distraction from charitable works. While that rule does not apply to your Company, it speaks on behalf of Stonewall and Mermaids in this appeal. Your Company’s CrowdJustice page makes serious and intemperate attacks on LGBA and at one point, the Commission. I can only assume that those allegations are made with the express approval of Mermaids, the charity
for which you seek to raise funds and support. Moreover, this is capable of giving the impression that your Company is in effect a device for those charities to evade the clear direction of the Commission using your Company’s CrowdJustice page to make attacks they cannot. It does seems strange that your Company, supposedly dedicated to transparency, openness and debate might allow itself to be used in this fashion.
26. Regarding the text present on the webpage itself, it is said in the first and third paragraph that: “Charitable status is earned by those who serve the public good. Denigrating trans people, attacking those who speak for them, and campaigning to remove legal protections from them is the very opposite of a public good.”
“Their purpose is the denigration of trans people and the destruction of organisations that support them, in particular through political lobbying and campaigning for law change.
These purposes are reprehensible and they are not charitable; they are political objectives
- to roll back legal protections for trans people.”
27. You provide no evidence for the extremely serious suggestion that LGBA denigrates Trans people. This allegation was comprehensively rejected by the Commission at paragraph 35 of their decision:
“35. The Commission looked at whether LGB Alliance’s purpose inevitably involves the denigration of the rights of transgender people and considered that it did not. The
Commission noted that LGB Alliance asserts that it engages constructively and
respectfully with representatives of the transgender community, has a number of
supporters within the transgender community, invited transgender supporters to attend and speak at the meetings it has held and has spoken publicly about its commitment to equality and respect for transgender people. LGB Alliance’s website states that its values include that of respect: “We engage with others respectfully. We discuss, propose, and oppose ideas; we do not attack individuals. Disagreement does not equal hate. We do not condone, endorse, or encourage any abusive or discriminatory behaviour towards any group or individual.”
28. Your Company does not define who it means or what free speech it complains of when it says LGBA is involved in “attacking those who speak for them”. This can only sensibly be read as an oblique reference to Mermaids and Stonewall and is a strange linguistic subterfuge for a Company which campaigns for transparency. Following Miller v College of Policing and Forstater v CGD Europe, the High Court has made very clear that the state does not mandate belief in gender identity. LGBA (and anyone, for that matter) is lawfully free to speak on these
issues. The contrary position would be that people may not disagree on this issue and must accept Mermaids’ position, this is an extreme position which would give rise to a culture of silencing and cancellation which, again, does not sit very easily with the idea of a company such as yours devoted to free speech and openness.
29. Your Company makes the extremely serious allegation that LGBA campaigns to remove legal protections from Trans people. I asked on Twitter on 20 August 2021 for your Company to name the legal protection you say is involved. You have not answered. This is a very serious allegation and, again, it is one likely to cause Trans people entirely understandable distress. Given it appears not to be correct, it is also a grossly insulting and inflammatory thing to say in the context of an already toxic debate. I appreciate that Crowdfunding pages can sometimes overstate matters and
people can become emotional when writing about subjects they care about, but this intense debate has a real effect on the lives of LGBT people. Can I invite your Company to carefully review whether or not it wishes to persist with this extreme and unevidenced claim. I note this claim is not repeated in your grounds of appeal so while it is said to the public, you do not appear prepared to advance this in a court of law.
30. The second paragraph of the webpage reads:
“Whatever sweet nothings the so-called ‘LGB Alliance’ whispered into the ear of the
Charity Commission the truth was set out in a speech by LGB Alliance director Bev
Jackson on 9 March 2020. She described their real goal as follows: ‘We’re applying for
charitable status and building an organization to challenge the dominance of those who promote the damaging theory of gender identity.’”
31. As I understand it, LGBA’s submissions were made according to a regular and transparent public process, people were free to support or object and the commission published the decision publicly. In using the language which your Company has here, it fundamentally mischaracterizes that open and normal process as “sweet nothings” being “whispered into the ear of the Charity Commission”. This can only reasonably be read as a suggestion of impropriety. “Sweet nothings” imports falsehoods or inducements. “Whispered” obviously suggests secrecy. If that reading is
correct, this is a scurrilous and scandalous claim which Mermaids (sensibly and tellingly) chose not to repeat in its grounds which will actually go before the FtT. The reason for that is likely that any lawyer who made this claim in public may well be in breach of their professional duties not to make allegations of impropriety without evidence. Your Company plainly owes both LGBA and the Commission an apology for this most incautious use of language on your Crowd Justice page. Again, as a homosexual man, I regret you approaching this tense and difficult area of debate by making what are on any view, wild and unsupported allegations. Again, I note this
claim is not repeated in your grounds of appeal so while it is said to the public, you do not appear prepared to advance this in a court of law.
32. I would like to draw to your attention to the fact that the reckless use of this sort of language has serious consequences. Recently a Twitter user described the Commission decision as a “set up”, linking it to the appointment of a new chair. That user’s and your Company’s language has the capacity to damage public confidence in the Commission, and I would urge it not to use this language.
33. As regards the remainder of the text, Ms Jackson is entitled to believe and say that she regards a belief in gender identity as damaging. She is legally protected in so doing by Articles 9 and 10 of the ECHR and s.9 of the Equality Act 2010 as confirmed in Forstater v CGD Europe UKEAT/0105/20/JOJ. Many homosexual and bisexual people also believe this. Your Company is purportedly committed to pluralism and human rights and yet here you seem to be saying that a person may not, as a matter of law, entertain beliefs your Company or those which it supports do not agree with. This cannot be right or fair nor can it possibly be right that LGB people must check with your Company and others as to whether or not their beliefs are permitted.
34. Your Company uses the phrase “so-called LGB Alliance”. Here it seems to me you are descending into mere insult by insinuating that the veteran LGB campaigners involved in the LGBA are not really bisexual or homosexuals or, (in your Company’s view), the right sort of bisexuals or homosexuals. This approach is hardly conducive to a reasonable debate, it also appears to be attacking people and organisations on the basis of the s.12 protected characteristic of sexual orientation which is dispiriting from a company that claims to have such noble objectives. Homosexual and bisexual people who disagree with your Company’s position are still homosexual or bisexual, it is not for your Company or Mermaids to suggest otherwise. Again, I note this phrasing is not repeated in your grounds of appeal so while it is said to the public, you do not appear prepared to advance this slur in a court of law.
Transparency issues around the Mermaids litigation
35. I invite your Company to outline its precise relationship with Mermaids and its supporters in the Mermaids litigation. You will be aware that Stonewall originally appeared as a named supporter of this litigation on the morning the CrowdJustice page was announced only to be removed later without any explanation as to why this happened. The brief appearance, taken in combination with the grounds explicitly arguing Stonewall’s position suggest tacit or secret support and gives the impression of the very opposite of transparency. Your Company may or may not wish to provide a transparent explanation for this so the public can make their own minds up accordingly. I note in passing your Company ordinarily deprecates and campaigns for transparency on arrangements made behind closed doors.
36. I would also invite your company to explain why a company that normally focuses on the government, Brexit, ministerial ethical conduct and COVID related funding scandals is anywhere near LGBT politics in the first place. It appears to have entered the debate just at a point when both Stonewall and Mermaids faced all manner of criticism and debate but you have firmly chosen their side in a debate over gender ideology against the LGBA. It is not clear why a company focused on government conduct would take such a view. Your Company should be open and transparent about this matter, LGB people who subscribe to the legal definition of same-sex attraction deserve to know who is attacking their only charity and why.
37. Section 115 of the Charities Act 2011 provides that a charity does not need the permission of the Commission to litigate an appeal. It is still unclear why your Company is involved at all as a fundraising “middleman”. You may wish to offer some transparency as to that matter particularly in view of the fact your Company will retain any excess funds from CrowdJustice.
Recent social media activity
38. Gay politics around the issue of gender ideology is a fraught debate on social media with many participants on either side regularly taking “time outs”. The debate goes to who the heart of who people are and it costs the minority to which I belong huge amounts in terms of distress and upset. Notwithstanding that your former director Mr Maugham engages in this debate in bullish terms most recently commenting on a “Pink News” piece which quite erroneously claimed LGBA had equated being Trans with bestiality. That is categorically untrue as any examination of the article
which was being commented on will demonstrate (the article uses the term “bestiality” and asks the question of whether the political acronym should become LGBT…Z”).
39. The fact your Company has established and promotes a CrowdJustice page for the Mermaids litigation creates a perverse financial and litigation incentive for attacks of this kind. The more outrageous the claim, the angrier people will become and the more likely to contribute. Further, misrepresentations of this kinds can be deployed by your Company to harm the LGBA, to suggest that something offensive and hurtful was said when it is not.
40. This appears to be part of an ongoing campaign by Mr Maugham. On 20 august 2021 he tweeted “Shocking that the Charity Commission ever gave its seal of approval to this hate group”, he has previously tweeted (entirely without evidence) that LGBA are funded by “right-wing” Christian money. This does not suggest to me that your Company is approaching this in an objective fashion according to the evidence or that it is remotely interested in giving the only England/Wales same-sex attraction-based charity anything approaching a fair hearing, not that any such charity should seek your approval in the first place.
41. I invite you each to carefully consider the contents of this letter and to reflect upon your Company’s continued support of the Mermaids’ litigation, whether through Crowdfunding or otherwise.
42. If I have misunderstood anything in what I have set out above then I would be happy to hear from your Company. I have made this letter publicly available through Twitter in addition to writing to your Company directly at its registered office as, like your Company states in its publicised objectives, I believe the law should protect the interests of the public, and everyone should speak the truth and act with integrity.
D N Kavanagh
Cc: Charity Commission of England and Wales