House of Lords joins backlash over criticism of equalities chief
Now the House of Lords joins the backlash over criticism of equalities chief Baroness Falkner as dozens of peers complain about Channel 4 News’s ‘one-sided’ report on claims of a ‘toxic culture’ at EHRC
- More than 40 members believed to have signed a letter about Tuesday’s report
Dozens of peers are writing to Ofcom to complain about Channel 4 News’s ‘one-sided’ report on claims of a ‘toxic culture’ at the equalities watchdog, sources said.
More than 40 members of the House of Lords from across the political spectrum are believed to have signed a letter about the report aired on Tuesday night.
The broadcaster reported on what it said was evidence of a toxic culture at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and ‘consternation’ at the leadership of chairman Baroness Falkner.
It interviewed current and former staff members speaking anonymously, with one calling the situation ‘heartbreaking’ and another claiming staff were often left in tears.
Staff are accused of taking aim at the chairman after she backed legal reforms guarding the rights of biological women in single-sex spaces such as hospital wards and toilets.
Channel 4’s report on Tuesday on what it said was evidence of a toxic culture at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and ‘consternation’ at the leadership of chairman Baroness Falkner (pictured)
More than 40 members of the House of Lords (pictured) from across the political spectrum are believed to have signed a letter about the report
A friend close to Baroness Falkner described the piece as a ‘hatchet job’, and said she had been left ‘heartbroken’ by the claims, having devoted her life to promoting equality.
A spokesman for Channel 4 News said they ‘stand by’ the report.
Meanwhile, Baroness Falkner has reportedly been forced to use ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ from her savings and pension to defend herself against the ‘witch-hunt’, it has emerged.
She is facing a costly barrister-led probe after EHRC staff filed 40 complaints against her, alleging transphobia, bullying and harassment.
Sources say the ‘ideologically motivated’ complainants failed to follow correct procedures, instead compiling one ‘super complaint’ hundreds of pages long.
The move has seen top barrister Gavin Mansfield KC drafted in to investigate, costing taxpayers over £120,000, while the chairman has been left to fend for herself.
Baroness Falkner, 68, is already more than £30,000 out of pocket, with the final bill expected to be double that amount as the inquiry launched in February drags on.
An EHRC insider said: ‘She is getting no financial support on her side whereas the organisation has appointed at huge cost a KC – that is money that could be spent on protecting people against discrimination.’
One source close the baroness said she has had to dip into her savings and pension to cover legal bills.
The source added that friends fear for the baroness’s health, saying: ‘The impact has been devastating. It is taking up all her energy and is causing an untold amount of stress.
‘We are all worried sick about how much weight she has lost and how often we see her upset and tearful.
‘This would have a terrible toll on anyone and this is a woman who has an impeccable record dedicated to public service. It feels terribly unfair.’
Despite the expenditure, it is feared the investigation has been jeopardised after documents and statements were leaked to Channel 4 News.
In a statement on Tuesday, Baroness Falkner said she believed she would be ‘exonerated’.
A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission declined to comment.
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