Transgender row leaves Britain's equality watchdog in crisis

Senior staff at Britain's equality watchdog have been accused of trying to oust its chairwoman for her position on transgender rights.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner is facing accusations of bullying and harassment by staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which has launched an independent inquiry.

Critics have suggested the claims are part of a vendetta by staff angry that EHRC commissioners have backed a government proposal to amend equality laws they say will affect transgender rights.

The Commission was asked by a Government minister to consider the benefits or drawbacks of an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 Act to amend the definition of "sex" to “biological sex”.

Commissioners advised that amending the definition could result in “greater legal clarity” around women-only spaces and access to sport, but critics say this would effectively ban transgender women from women's spaces and women's sports events.

Baroness Falkner is also facing claims she referred to a transgender quiz contestant on BBC's Mastermind as "a bloke in lipstick".

Reports from within the Commission suggest there are divisions between staff who defend Baroness Falkner's mission to balance women's rights with transgender rights, and those determined to oust her.

Baroness Falkner said there should be “due regard to any possible disadvantages for trans men and trans women”.

She said: “Our response to the minister’s request for advice suggests that the UK Government carefully identify and consider the potential implications of this change."

TalkTV's Julia Hartley-Brewer said: "Someone having extra rights does step on the feet of other people's rights and you need to carefully weigh those rights up together.

"That's the balancing act the Commission needs to work out. It's literally their job."

Trans woman and journalist Debbie Hayton said the role of the EHRC was to look after the rights of all protected groups, including women, and it must not give way to the trans ideological lobby.

"The lobby is not interested in biological facts, but in imposing its will on everyone else, including women and girls. For a group that is seemingly marginalised and oppressed, they seem to have an awful lot of power."

The Commission has paused its investigation to seek legal advice after confidential information was leaked.