Gendered Intelligence trains judges in secret – I am going to court to try to break the secrecy


The hearing was on October 20th.
Judgement reserved
You can read the live tweets

You can download all the skeletons
Appelant: Maya Forstater (Naomi Cunningham)
Respondent 1: Information Commissioners Office (Katherine Taunton)
Respondents 2&3: Ministry of Justice and The Judicial College (Ravi Mehta)

Gendered Intelligence is a small but influential lobby group which promotes gender ideology.  You may not have heard of them but you will certainly have heard their ideas.

When Stonewall was considering the move from being an organisation focused on sexual orientation to one focused on gender identity it was Gendered Intelligence that trained the entire staff. They have been delivering training in schools, including primary schools, since 2008.They have provided training for organisations including the Tate Gallery, Tesco, Transport for London, National Theatre, V&A, Royal Mail, Amnesty International, the Football Association, McKinsey, Aviva, and the Environment Agency. 

We don’t know much about the content of that training as they don’t publish details, but their Trans Youth Sexual Health Booklet sets out the basics of the radical gender theory they espouse – where identity is all and bodies mean nothing

“a woman is still a woman, even if she enjoys getting blow jobs. A man is still a man, even if he likes getting penetrated vaginally”

I put this booklet in the evidence bundle in my first employment tribunal because I thought it might be an eye-opener for the judge, who I assumed probably didn’t know much about gender ideology.

But, in fact, the judge may have already been trained by Gendered Intelligence.

Gendered Intelligence trains the tribunal

Training for judges is carried out by the Judicial College, this training is said to be “by judges, for judges”. But in 2018 Judge Sian Davies proudly revealed in an in-house magazine for judges, that the Employment Tribunal and the Immigration Tribunal judges had received training from Gendered Intelligence.

The training was commissioned for “jurisdiction specific reasons” (i.e. because the employment tribunal deals with discrimination claims related to ‘gender reassignment’) and to “provide judges with information, raise awareness and boost confidence in terms of familiarity with, and use of appropriate terminology.” It promoted a beyond-the-law view of trans rights:

“The presentation started with information about the wider context for trans identities, which is much broader than
is covered by the Equality Act”

“The session was tailored to the ET jurisdiction and we were presented with stark statistics about the issues faced by trans people in the workplace.”

(these statistics later turned up in my judgment, by James Tayler, although they were not raised in court as evidence)

The public is not allowed to know anything about it

There is no information on this training in the Judicial College’s published Review of Activities.

In March 2020 I submitted a Freedom of Information request asking dates and details of the training including:

– Cost of the training
– Contract/agreement/TORs for commissioning the training
– Copies of any presentation material and/or hand outs used
– Which judges attended the training

The Ministry of Justice refused the request, saying that it didn’t hold the information. I asked for a review by the Judicial College. The Judicial College said it only holds information on behalf of the judiciary, and in any case is not covered by FOI and is therefore exempt from disclosure. I complained to the Information Commissioner who also agreed that the public had no right to have any information on Gendered Intelligence’s training of judges (or indeed any other lobby group training judges in secret).

Tomorrow the case goes to tribunal. I am represented in this case by barrister Naomi Cunningham.

Secrecy for lobby groups in the name of judicial independence?

The Ministry of Justice and the Judical College will argue that for the sake of judicial independence their training by lobby groups must be kept secret and is outside of the scope of FOI.

My barrister will argue that this undermines rather than bolsters public confidence in judicial independence, that it was never the intention of the FOI Act to ring-fence judicial training in secrecy.

Gendered Intelligence is a highly ideological and controversial organisation. They are involved in the legal challenge against the charitable status of LGB Alliance, they intervened in the Bell v Tavistock appeal, they are also involved in a new Good Law Project judicial review against the NHS. They were also signatories to a letter to the EHRC castigating them for intervening in my case.

If the secrecy is allowed to stand when these cases come before courts we will not know if the judges have been trained by Gendered Intelligence, or by any other lobby groups.

And we do not know if any of these lobby groups are involved in writing the “Equal Treatment Benchbook” guidance for judges.

The question raised by this appeal is a surprising one: does judicial independence require that judges may be given secret training by lobby groups? We argue that it doesn’t.

4 Responses to “Gendered Intelligence trains judges in secret – I am going to court to try to break the secrecy”

  1. 1 Paul Eccles

    I wouldn’t mind the ability to dial in Maya, if that doesn’t cause too much of a problem. It will be helpful to observe as lawyers in private practice and to understand the landscape

  2. 2 Francis Harris

    You are an absolute bloody marvel. This is a key case, dealing with critical issues in how the state interprets the modern world.
    UIt is absolutely extraordinary that English and Welsh judges accept training from an extremist organisation.
    When the history of this scandal is written, Maya will be given pride of place

  3. 3 NW Luna

    Charming people in the illustration, aren’t they? Urgh.

  4. 4 Hecuba

    If as is the case judges are being trained by lobby groups whose sole remit is to lobby for a certain ideological cause or causes then clearly judicial independence is being deliberately undermined and serving to create biased judges!

    I very much look forward to judges being trained by real feminist lawyers because despite ‘feminist lawyers’ being viewed as ‘lobbyists’ then what is good for the male goose is good for the female gander! Obviously judges need to be trained concerning what constitutes women’s lived experiences. But men’s laws are men’s laws which means women’s experiences are irrelevant!

    And it is our public money which is being spent by the fascist tory government on these so-called ‘training events’ and therefore we the public have a right to know exactly what training these judges are receiving from this lobby group Gendered Intelligence who clearly aren’t experts but merely ‘paid lobbyists!’

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