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Denise Fahmy v Arts Council England
Arts Council employee claims harassment and victimisation after supporting a grant to the LGB Alliance
Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash
Denise Fahmy is taking her employer of 15 years, Arts Council England (ACE), to employment tribunal on the grounds that she was harassed and victimised due to her gender critical beliefs.
In March 2022, a branch of ACE, The London Community Fund, awarded lesbian & gay organisation, LGB Alliance, a grant to make a film called ‘Queens’.
The grant caused public outrage, with many accusing LGB Alliance of ‘transphobia’. The view was shared by the Deputy Director of ACE, who, at a staff meeting, accused LGB Alliance of being ‘divisive and anti-trans’.
At the staff meeting, Ms Fahmy defended LGB Alliance and then later learned the funding from the film had been cut. Denise believes ACE to have directed it, though an independent investigation has never been undertaken and despite questions being asked in Parliament.
A petition against Denise and all other ‘gender criticals’ was then circulated on the staff intranet for people to sign. It was seen by 700 members of staff, signed by 100, and some responded using phrases like ‘parasites, neo nazis, needing to be stamped out’. ACE claims the abuse hadn’t been directed at her and left Denise with no right to appeal. Denise took sick leave with stress because of the toxic working environment.
Denise is now bringing ACE to employment tribunal on 18-25th May 2023. She seeks justice against her harassers and is adamant she will ‘out the appalling discrimination’ against LGB Alliance and highlight how the Arts is closing down free speech and bullying staff and freelancers, particularly women’.
Denise’s crowdfunder is here: Fighting bias at the top of the Arts Council
On 27th June 2023, the tribunal ruled unanimously that:
“1. The claim of harassment related to the protected characteristic of Religion or belief is well-founded and succeeds
2. The claims of victimisation are not well-founded and are dismissed.
3. A further hearing will be listed to deal with the question of remedy.”
Read the judgement here.
On 20th September 2023, days before a scheduled remedies hearing, Denise Fahmy announced she had reached a settlement.
Live tweet sessions
18th May session - Permission to live tweet is being contested, challenge about bundle access and tribunal schedule discussed
19 May morning session - Tribunal tweets granted access and Aileen McColgan KC, barrister for ACE, begins her examination of the Claimant, Denise Fahmy
19 May afternoon session - Aileen McColgan KC continues her examination of Claimant, Denise Fahmy’s, witness statement
22 May morning session - Denise Fahmy evidence concludes with examination by Anya Palmer, KC and evidence from Ian Matthews of ACE. (Referred to as PM, Paul Matthews for a portion of the session)
22 May afternoon session - evidence from Ian Matthews, HR director of ACE
23 May morning session (1) - evidence from Simon Mellor, ACE deputy chief executive
23 May morning session (2) - evidence from Simon Mellor
23 May morning session (3) - Simon Mellor evidence concludes
23 May afternoon session - evidence from Paul Roberts of ACE. Evidence concludes.
24 May - submissions from counsel
C or DF- Claimant, Denise Fahmy
AP - Barrister for Claimant, Anya Palmer KC
R or AC/ACE - Respondent, Arts Council England
AM - Barrister for ACE, Aileen McColgan KC
LGBA - Lesbian and gay charity, LGB Alliance
LCF - London Community Fund, a branch of ACE
WPUK - Women's Place UK
NL - National Lottery
DCM - Department for Culture Media and Sport
LCJ - Let’s Create Jubilee Fund
KB - LGB Alliance’s chief executive, Kate Barker
NS - ACE chairman, Sir Nick Serota
MD - Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan
SM - Simon Mellor, ACE deputy chief executive
Here are links to a selection of relevant press coverage about this case. These links are included without comment and are not endorsed by Tribunal Tweets. This is a sample of coverage only, with most recent first - it is not comprehensive. Please DM our main Twitter account to submit coverage from an established news outlet. Any paywalled article must be archived.
27th June 2023
20th May 2023
19th May 2023
23rd April 2023
[VIDEO] Free Speech Nation on GB News - Gender Critical beliefs led to Denie Fahmy being ‘harassed and victimised’
25th March 2023
The Telegraph - ‘Arts Council hounded me for not towing line on trans issues’
Press coverage on LGB Alliance Funding removal
21st April 2022
The Critic - Why is the LGB Alliance film having its funding cut?
13th April 2022
Arts Professional - LGB Alliance grant suspended after outcry
12th April 2023
Civil Society - London Community Foundation ‘suspends’ grant to LGB Alliance