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Crown prosectors remove ‘distressing’ hate-crime guidance after legal action

June 2020

DPP Max Hill QC
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The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has finally pulled its controversial LGBT hate-crime guidance for schools following legal action by a 14-year-old girl.

The guidance, which had been published in January this year, warned schools they could be taken to court if they do not allow transgender pupils to use the toilets and changing rooms of their choice.

It also claimed that children could be guilty of a hate crime for ‘rejecting someone’, ‘not wanting to work with them’, or excluding them from a friendship group.

However, lawyers representing the teenager known as Miss A said she found the document ‘distressing’. According to reports in The Daily Telegraph, the schoolgirl was also concerned she and others like her might inadvertently be in breach of the law.

In a legal letter threatening a judicial review, Miss A’s lawyers accused the CPS of ‘misrepresenting the law’ and said it was extraordinary that ‘no statutory organisation with expertise in safeguarding and the welfare of children has been consulted’.

Lawyers representing the girl said she ‘has a very respectful attitude to teachers and would easily be intimidated by an authority figure warning her of the possibility of criminal liability if she spoke or acted inappropriately’.

They added, ‘She greatly values her privacy and finds the thought of biological boys accessing the girl’s toilets as very distressing.’

As a result of the letter, the CPS said it would temporarily remove the guidance while it conducted a review.

Tanya Carter of Safe Schools Alliance, which supported the case in association with freedom of speech campaign group Fair Cop, said the organisation was grateful to the CPS for withdrawing the guidance.

In a statement she said, ‘While the idea that this guidance would educate students on hate crime and reduce bullying may have been well-intentioned, the effect was quite the opposite.’

She also said the guidance ‘curtailed free speech and made female students feel unsafe in schools. We hope any other similar guidance will also now be withdrawn’.

This came shortly after a 13-year-old girl was recently granted permission by the High Court to take landmark legal action against Oxfordshire County Council over its controversial guidance concerning transgender pupils. The case is expected to be heard in the autumn.

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