High Court rejects legal challenge to transgender prison policy

Mon, 05 Jul 2021

On Friday the Divisional Court handed down an important judgment in relation to the Ministry of Justice’s transgender prison policy.


The Claimant brought a claim arguing that her Article, 3, 8 and 14 rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 were violated, and she was indirectly discriminated against, by the Ministry of Justice’s prison policy on the care and management of transgender prisoners. Specifically, it was claimed that her rights were violated by having to be in the same prison as transgender women who have convictions for sexual or violent offences against women.


Dr Lamble was represented by Stuart Withers and Killian Moran of Kesar & Co Solicitors. Dr Lamble was granted permission to intervene to provide evidence in relation to the available statistics on transgender prisoners and their previous convictions for sexual and violent offences. Dr Lamble asked that the court be cautious in relation to making any factual findings based on the limited evidence available.


Lord Justice Holroyde importantly held 


“ I do not accept that the statistical evidence permits the conclusion, for which the Claimant contends, that a transgender prisoner is 5 or 6 times more likely than a non-transgender prisoner to commit a sexual assault on a non-transgender prisoner: that seems to be a misuse of the statistics, which in any event are so low in number, and so lacking in detail, that they are an unsafe basis for general conclusions.”


The Court went onto make findings regarding the single-sex exemptions under Schedule 3 of the Equality Act 2010. The Court accepted that they were permissive, and did not have to be applied. In any event, the Court found that the Secretary of State’s policy assessing a transgender prisoner’s risk would have performed a similar function if the exemptions applied.


The Judgment


Bent Bars Press Release


About me:

Stuart Withers specialises in public and prison law. He specialises in representing transgender clients in public law and civil claims arising from mistreatment in the criminal justice system. Stuart also advises Local Authorities and Schools in relation to transgender issues and education matters.

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