Why social worker won harassment claims against council and regulator over gender critical beliefs

Tim Spencer-Lane analyses the judgment of an employment tribunal in the case of Rachel Meade v Westminster City Council and Social Work England

Book with title employment tribunal on a table.
Photo: Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe Stock

By Tim Spencer-Lane

In Rachel Meade v Westminster City Council and Social Work England (2200179/2022 and 2211483/2022), a social worker won multiple claims for harassment, on account of beliefs protected in law, against her employer and the regulator.

The claimant, Rachel Meade, is a qualified social worker in adult services, who started working at Westminster City Council in 2001.

Ms Meade described herself as feminist and holding gender critical views, which included the belief that sex is immutable and not to be confused with gender identity.

The complaint to Social Work England

The case focused on Ms Meade’s Facebook account, which had been set to private and included around 40 friends, including some work colleagues.

A social worker, who was a Facebook friend of the claimant, made a complaint to Social Work England about what was alleged to be the claimant’s transphobic comments on her Facebook account.

He also alleged that she had signed petitions published by organisations known to harass the trans community and donated money to causes which seek to erode the right of trans people.

Regulator begins investigation

Social Work England begun an investigation in November 2020. The case examiners focused on 70 posts, which included links to a petition calling for male athletes not to compete in women’s sports, to a petition calling for female only spaces and to a satirical post which stated:

“Boys that identify as girls to go to Girl Guides. Girls that identify as boys to go to Boy Scouts. Men that identify as paedophile go to either.”

Both Social Work England and Westminster contended this post – referred to as the Girl Guides/Boy Scouts post in the judgment – conflated transgenderism with paedophilia.

Social work’s initial response to complaint

In her response to the complaint, Ms Meade acknowledged that she had been “naively unaware that any posts she had shared or liked, any petitions she had signed, or any organisations to whom she had donated, were discriminatory or offensive. She said that she had not fully read or analysed the content some of the articles or links before posting. She acknowledged showing a lack of judgement in her use of social media.”

She also removed the relevant posts and unfriended any organisations or friends that may be seen as being critical towards minority groups. She then attended training on working with gender diverse and trans people.

Regulator’s sanction

Social Work England concluded that there was a realistic prospect that Ms Meade’s fitness to practise was impaired, with its case examiners’ report saying she had engaged in a pattern of discriminatory behaviour over an extended period.

However,  it said it would not be in the public interest to proceed to a hearing. Instead, the appropriate sanction was a one-year warning.

In particular it was noted there was no evidence that the claimant had acted in a transphobic manner whilst at work. Ms Meade initially agreed to this disposal.

Suspension from work

Westminster was informed of this outcome and suspended her on gross misconduct charges in July 2021, pending an investigation under its disciplinary code.

The suspension was not lifted until nearly a year later following a disciplinary hearing, after which Westminster placed Ms Meade on a 24-month final written warning, with the risk of dismissal for similar further actions.

Ms Meade appealed the decision, saying the sanction was excessive, oppressive and an act of unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Request for regulator to reconsider

In the meantime, she had asked  the regulator to reconsider its decision. She stated that there was new evidence to refute the allegations made and which demonstrated that she had not acted in a discriminatory manner.

With Ms Meade having rescinded her consent to the accepted disposal, Social Work England was required to remove the warning from her registration record, in January 2022.

It initially said the matter would be referred to a hearing to determine whether her fitness to practise was impaired.

Fitness to practise case ended

However, it later received advice that there was no realistic prospect of a determination of impairment and so applied for the case to be discontinued.

This was agreed, in October 2022, by a fitness to practise panel, which found that the full content of the posts “did not contain slurs, or profane language, did not target individuals and did not incite violence, harassment or other concerning or illegal activities”.

Further, it found that the fact that much of the material in the posts was reposted from mainstream media sources, which it considered undermined the suggestion that they could cause offence or undermine public confidence in the profession.

Written warning removed

A month later, after hearing her appeal against her written warning, Westminster removed this from Ms Meade’s record.

She then issued claims for harassment and direct discrimination against Social Work England and her employer.

The legal framework and relevant case law

Harassment occurs where an individual engages in unwanted conduct relating to a relevant protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating another individual’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual (section 26 of the Equality Act 2010).

Direct discrimination takes place where a person treats the claimant less favourably because of the protected characteristic than that person treats or would treat others (section 13 of the Equality Act).

In regards to Ms Meade’s claims for harassment and direct discrimination, the relevant protected characteristic was religion and philosophical belief (section 10 of the Equality Act).

In Maya Forstater v CGD Europe and Others (UKEAT/10/20/JOJ), the employment appeal tribunal ruled that the gender critical beliefs held by the appellant in that case fell within section 10 of the Equality Act.

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides for the freedom to manifest belief (religious or otherwise) and Article 10 for the right to freedom of expression. However, these rights are qualified and can be subject to restrictions to the extent necessary for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The employment appeal tribunal, in Higgs v Farmor’s School [2023] EAT 89, provided guidance on justifying interference with a person’s rights under Articles 9 and 10, in the context of an employment relationship.

This set out a number of factors to be taken into account:

  • the content of the manifestation of their beliefs;
  • the tone used;
  • the extent of the manifestation;
  • the worker’s understanding of the likely audience;
  • the extent and intrusion on the rights of others and the consequential impact on the employer’s ability to run its business;
  • whether the worker has made clear whether the words expressed are personal or whether they might be seen as representing the views of the employer, and whether that might present a reputational risk;
  • Whether there is a potential power imbalance given the nature of the worker’s positional role and that of those who rights are intruded upon;
  • The nature of the employer’s business, in particular where there is a potential impact on vulnerable service users or clients; and
  • Whether the limitation imposed on the worker’s rights is the least intrusive measure open to the employer.

Article 17 of the convention sets out that nothing in the ECHR provide any right to engage in any activity or acts which are aimed at the destruction of ECHR rights.

Decision of the employment tribunal

In Ms Meade’s case, the tribunal found that none of the posts could reasonably be regarded as offensive or inciting hatred.

All fell within her protected rights to freedom of thought and expression, under Articles 9 and 10, and none aimed at the destruction of any rights or freedoms, and so were not covered by Article 17.

Whilst some people may be offended, the tribunal noted that freedom of speech does involve the right to cause offence. It also considered it significant that many of the posts did not constitute the claimant articulating her own views, but rather forwarding links to articles or comments on television programmes pertaining to the gender critical debate.

The tribunal also felt that the posts were not outside the reasonable bounds of the legitimate manifestation of the claimant’s beliefs.

For example, it rejected the claim that the Girl Guides/Boy Scouts post had the effect of equating transgenderism with paedophilia. It concluded this constituted “a reasonable satire” and addressed a “legitimate safeguarding concern that some transwomen, retaining male bodies, could exploit their position to have access to young and vulnerable girls”.

Balance between free expression and interests of offended

The tribunal concluded that Social Work England and Westminster had not struck a fair balance between Ms Meade’s right to freedom of expression and the interests of those offended by her Facebook posts.

The tribunal felt it was significant that it was only one person – the fellow social worker who made the complaint to Social Work England – who had been offended, and there was no evidence that Ms Meade’s views were expressed in the context of her professional duties.

The tribunal found that most of her claims for harassment against the two organisations succeeded, and would have amounted to direct discrimination.

Successful claims against employer

In relation to Westminster, it found that the basis for the disciplinary process was Ms Meade’s protected belief. For example, in its investigation, the authority did not identify posts that went beyond a manifestation of Ms Meade’s protected belief and constituted unacceptable conduct.

It concluded that the disciplinary process, which was of significant duration, constituted harassment, on the grounds that the council had taken the view that in the expression of her protected believes, Ms Meade “had behaved in a manner which warranted a suspension and a disciplinary process”.

Successful claims against Social Work England

In relation to Social Work England, the tribunal concluded that its “prolonged investigation” was unwanted, related to Ms Meade’s protected belief and “created an intimidating, hostile and offensive environment for her”. As such, this constituted harassment.

It also found that Ms Meade felt under “significant duress” when she agreed to accept a sanction from Social Work England in July 2021 and feared that if she did not, a fitness to practise hearing would follow, which could lead to a more serious outcome. It concluded that she felt subject to an intimidating and hostile environment, which was also sufficient to constitute harassment.

Whilst the tribunal acknowledged that there are limitations on the right to freedom of speech, and the manifestation of protected beliefs, it did not consider that the threshold was reached in this case.

Social worker’s beliefs ‘considered inherently discriminatory’

The state of mind of both Social Work England and the local authority had been that the beliefs expressed were inherently discriminatory and transphobic and therefore unacceptable.

The approach should have been to accept that the claimant was entitled to her beliefs and the manifestation of them, but that certain posts were unacceptable with the reasons why being clearly and consistently set out. This did not happen.

Focus on wider gender identity debate

At the conclusion of its decision, the tribunal felt it was important to recognise the “high-profile public debate” between those supporting gender self-identification and those with gender critical views, including within and between political parties.

It was described as “self-evident” that there was no settled societal, political or legislative position regarding the rights of those seeking gender self-identification.

The tribunal went on to say that the views of the claimant were “not extreme” but rather “represented her expressing her opinion in an ongoing public debate.”

The fact that the debate was often vociferous, and on occasion toxic, did not mean that the right to freedom of expression in a democratic society should be restricted. The analogy was given of the Brexit debates.

Social worker’s views ‘could not be viewed as transphobic’

The tribunal also disagreed that the claimant’s views were the equivalent to an employee/social worker espousing racially discriminatory or homophobic views.

It stated that the claimant’s opinions could not “sensibly” be viewed as being transphobic, but rather her “expressing an opinion contrary to the interpretation of legislation, or perhaps more accurately the amendment to existing legislation, advocated for by trans lobbying groups to include, but not limited to, Stonewall”.

In terms of a remedy, the judge invited the parties to resolve this issue between them but if not, a further hearing would take place in February 2024.

Tim Spencer-Lane is a lawyer specialising in social care, mental health and mental capacity law. He is also legal editor of Community Care Inform.

Responses to the judgment

Rachel Meade

Rachel Meade

Rachel Meade: “It’s a huge relief to be so completely vindicated after all this time. It has been a horrendous experience. This ruling makes it clear that I was entitled to contribute to the important public debate on sex and gender. I hope it will make it easier for other regulated professionals to speak up without threats to their career and reputation.”

Westminster City Council: “We apologise to Rachel Meade for the way she has been treated and the upset that has been caused. We acknowledge and accept the findings of the tribunal.

“As recent landmark cases have shown and the tribunal noted, the issues and policy making involving gender recognition and rights is a fast-evolving area. We will be carefully studying the points made in the judgement and considering what changes we need to make at Westminster City Council to ensure the best balance we can to support our staff, service users and our partners.”

Social Work England’s chief executive, Colum Conway: “The tribunal made findings in respect of Ms Meade’s claims against Social Work England. Following the judgment, all parties have the opportunity to consider the decision and their options. As such, we do not intend to provide further comment at this time. Any further updates will be published on our website.”

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48 Responses to Why social worker won harassment claims against council and regulator over gender critical beliefs

  1. S.Cowling January 17, 2024 at 1:40 pm #

    No apology from SWE then?? Despicable! Conway should hang his head in shame. Show some decency and RESIGN!

  2. John Simpson January 17, 2024 at 2:18 pm #

    Well done to Rachel Meade for challenging both SWE and her employing council. For far too long (i.e. HCPC and the previous iterations) were only too keen to interfere with people’s individual’s rights in the misguided belief that they had a right to interfere into people’s private lives.

    Lets hope this is a shot across their bows and they now are on notice that their role is to regulate social work, not some quasi though police to intrude into people’s private lives (and i’m not sure why Article 8 claim wasn’t part of the claim mix?).

  3. Jim Greer January 17, 2024 at 3:03 pm #

    This case shows up some fundamental issues with Social Work England’s procedures and a failing on the part of the Regulator to understand the importance of professional debate or the issues at stake in this case.
    When Social Work England took over as Regulator, there was a decision to make some cases paper based rather than having a full hearing. The initial miscarriage of justice in this case would have been much less likely to happen if there had been a proper Hearing in which the registrant could have had representation. Arguably, this case should not have gone beyond triage. Your report does not note that Social Work England had failed to investigate possible motivations of the complainant, who apparently had very strong political views about trans issues and a lack of tolerance for people who disagreed.
    At the Tribunal stage Social Work England fielded a Barrister who was an expert in transgender law. However the case was not intended to settle the rights of trans people but rather the rights of a social worker to free speech and the holding of gender critical views. The latter had already been decided in the case of Forstater v The Centre for Global Development.
    An important part of the judgement was that the Tribunal declared that even the act of saying that Rachel’s gender critical views were transphobic was an act of harassment.
    This case has very far reaching implications for social work practice. One of Rachel’s posts was about the trans charity Mermaids. This organisation is currently under investigation by the Charities Commission and its influence on the Tavistock Gender Service was believed to be a contributory factor in the Gender Service’s poor practices. In the book Time to Think by Hannah Barnes, about the discredited Tavistock Gender service for children, it was revealed that one of the important whistleblowers was a social worker. The social worker was concerned about the high numbers of teenage girls who were being put on puberty blockers who had psychological issues including autism or whom had experienced homophobia or had suffered sexual abuse and whom had received no help for these issues. Children were put on a medicalised path after only a few sessions with the Tavistock without proper follow up or monitoring.
    I wonder how a social worker in such a service would have the courage now to be a whistleblower now after seeing how an employer and a regulator have harassed a social worker
    simply for being concerned about women’s rights. A recent article in The Times suggests that social workers in Rachel’s authority are afraid to speak out on the contentious issues of the treatment of gender dysphoric children for fear of being disciplined or reported to the regulator. I suspect there are social workers all over the country with similar fears. This is an area where knowledge is contested, yet people who strongly believe in gender affirmative, and gender ideology more widely think they can impose their views on others.
    Social Work England have badly let down the profession. They must make a statement which reinforces a commitment to free thinking and free speech for social workers.

    • Di January 17, 2024 at 8:49 pm #

      Well articulated and spot on. As a sw, I’ve followed this from the early stages, SWE have been despicable, no investigation of the complainant and that her complained was malicious
      Westminster councils actions were utterly deplorable

      Well done Rachel but the process sadly was the punishment but she had the courage to challenge both legalisation

      SwE is not fit for purpose

  4. dk January 17, 2024 at 3:29 pm #

    “legitimate safeguarding concern that some transwomen, retaining male bodies, could exploit their position to have access to young and vulnerable girls”.

    Crikey, I’ve seen some utter garbage come out of tribunals and courts in my role but nothing as bad as this. There’s literally no evidence base for any assertion that transwomen are more likely to abuse girls, or children generally, than … *drum roll* cis men. This isn’t a matter of politics or personal opinion, but of basic evidence. It is very strange that anyone, especially social workers with greater than typical familiarity with abuse and those who perpetrate it, would look at the world around them and not see that cis men are overwhelmingly responsible for abuse, and consistently abuse with confidence and impunity without any form of “disguise”. Even if I put the clear transphobia (that being transphobic is effectively a protected characteristic doesn’t make it not transphobia) of it aside, I’d have worries about the risk assessment and critical thinking of anyone who thought this was a “legitimate” safeguarding concern.

    • Di January 17, 2024 at 6:26 pm #

      You’ve obviously not read the judgement in full

      • dk January 18, 2024 at 9:16 am #

        Not yet, no. Does Community Care’s article misrepresent it with the part it, and then I, quote? It would genuinely be helpful to point this out if so.

        I’m not a fan of SWE or employers deciding what views individuals can and cannot have or policing their personal lives, and purposefully made no comment on the individual concerned. Quite frankly, I don’t have the expertise for that. What I commented on is the tribunal’s idea that the mere presence of male genitalia-retaining transwomen around young girls is (again, I’m quoting directly) is a “legimitate safeguarding concern” has no empirical basis. Even setting aside the prejudice of it (my views are clear but I have to accept many do not consider there to be prejudice here), it is a dangerous message that undermines all notions of evidence-based practice and risk obfuscating the picture of who, on a population level, abuses and exploits young girls.

        • Elaine January 23, 2024 at 12:42 pm #

          Hang on – you criticise people for not using critical thinking, but you’ve commented without reading the judgement? Or considering what the evidence might be behind the concerns raised?

    • Claire January 18, 2024 at 7:36 am #

      According to our own government statistics, trans identified men commit violent and sexual offences at exactly the same rate as all men.

      • Di January 19, 2024 at 9:15 am #

        There is no such thing as cis. You cannot change sex, a male person, regardless of how they identify, should not be allowed in women’s only spaces because they are men….

    • Claire January 18, 2024 at 7:54 am #

      Basic evidence does exist to counter what you are stating. Just read the government statistics on the nature and comparison to ‘ Cis’ men recorded crimes committed by those you seek to protect

    • Abigail January 18, 2024 at 10:46 am #

      Not sure your logic is consistent with your expressed view here. “Not more likely than” suggests some correlation whether the assumption of others is prejudiced. The judgement does not say “all” but “some” doesn’t it? Incidently pick and choose which laws I agree with and ignore ones I don’t would get my worry antenna twitching.

    • John Cluster January 18, 2024 at 6:02 pm #

      “There’s literally no evidence base for any assertion that transwomen are more likely to abuse girls, or children generally, than cis men”…cis men do not go into toilets or changing rooms where children are and transwomen do.

    • Dave January 19, 2024 at 9:05 am #

      There is plenty evidence males are a far higher risk to kids than females. You know this.

      What does the male persons gender identity have to do with it?


      “Even if I put the clear transphobia (that being transphobic is effectively a protected characteristic doesn’t make it not transphobia) of it aside”

      This is the exact attitude that got SWE in hot water.

    • RV January 19, 2024 at 2:54 pm #

      Perhaps the point being made is that natal men are male, trans women are male. As you rightly point out the rates of offending are the same. In terms of risk assessment one would need to consider a trans woman as male i.e not a woman. This undermines the position that “trans women are women”.

    • Helen January 19, 2024 at 10:47 pm #

      Yes there’s a confusion between the idea transwomen will offend and the idea men may affect transition in order tjo gain access. I’m no expert but doesn’t seem to me transwomen are more likely to offend. But I have no problem believing an abusive man might affect a transition because some will do literally anything.
      I think this point has been massively overshadowed by confused discussion throughout the whole debate. Most people are not accusing transwomen of being paedophiles. .

    • The Mad Statter January 21, 2024 at 11:18 pm #

      Utterly wrong. Trans-identified men (i.e trans women) do show male patterns of sex offending and don’t start displaying female patterns.

      In 2017 MoJ statistics showed that 60 out of 125 self-identified trans prisoners (that is 48%) had a conviction for sexual offences, compared to 9% of the male prison population.
      (Editor’s note – for more context on this figure, please see this BBC story: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42221629)

      In other words there are perfectly sound reasons to take sensible precautions with trans-women who want access to children.

    • Elaine January 23, 2024 at 12:39 pm #

      Have you actually looked to see what the evidence is?
      Because if you had – as you should do, if you’re a social worker – you will see that the statistics recorded by the ONS indicate that trans women are convicted of sexual offences in line with if not in greater relative numbers than natal males, and so the pattern of offending is in line with male criminality not female.
      Nobody is saying that trans women as a whole are sex offenders, in exactly the same way we know not all men are sex offenders. But the risk of sexual harm from males is higher, which is precisely why there is a need for single sex spaces.
      You talk about risk assessment and critical thinking, but it seems in fact you haven’t done the reading behind the concerns raised.

  5. Clare January 17, 2024 at 9:21 pm #

    Well social work England sound REALLY sorry 🙄🙄

    • Adam January 19, 2024 at 4:09 pm #

      I think their complete lack of response is rather telling of them as an organisation

  6. Ezra January 17, 2024 at 10:28 pm #

    “It concluded this constituted “a reasonable satire” and addressed a “legitimate safeguarding concern that some transwomen, retaining male bodies, could exploit their position to have access to young and vulnerable girls”.”

    This statement by the Tribunal equates trans women with risk of sexual violence. Countries that have self-ID (a policy that is aligned with UN human rights-based best practice guidance) do not report an increase of sex crime perpetrated by trans women or people misappropriating self-ID legislation. This includes Argentina where self-ID has been the law for a decade, allowing longitudinal analysis.

    It’s also particularly galling to see reference to trans women “retaining male bodies” as a risk factor when the waiting list for an initial appointment at an NHS Gender Identity Clinic is currently over 5 years.

    While I accept that this judgement is based on the specific facts of a particular case, including that the posts were shared on a locked Facebook account and not in the workplace, I’m concerned that it could have a chilling effect on regulators and employers supporting employees and service users who experience and/or report transphobia. I hope to be wrong about this.

    Similarly, I hope that the case isn’t used as a broader benchmark in relation to defining workplace transphobia, rather than a judgement about balancing Art.s 9, 10 and 17. I don’t see any evidence that views of trans people were sought in determining what is or isn’t transphobic. Depressingly, trans people appear to be reduced by the Tribunal to “a legitimate safeguarding concern” and a “lobbying group”.

    People might remember the pre-Section 28 panic created by politicians, pressure groups and the media about gay men “recruiting” children. In the 80s it could probably have been “described as “self-evident” that there was no settled societal, political or legislative position” in relation to gay people teaching and children and young people being educated about diverse relationships. However, there was a clear anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory position. Something to reflect on in the midst of the current trans panic.

    • Andrew January 18, 2024 at 2:24 pm #

      The Tribunal doesn’t have powers to call witnesses but Westminster and SWE did but chose not to. You may wish to ask them that question. Tribunal did consider the view of Stonewall so was aware of trans affirming arguments. Equating Section 28 which specifically made it illegal to talk about gay rights isn’t the equaliser you seem to infer. There is no law, yet, that prohibits discussion of trans identity whatever the culture wars contend. Is there transphobia in social work? Most likely but it isn’t on an institutional or organisational level as S28 was by law.

  7. Alec Fraher January 17, 2024 at 11:18 pm #

    SWE are regulated, right? The basis of this regulation is called ‘Right Touch’ ~ it’s a governance framework drawn-up from the banking and building (with some health) sectors based on few selective case studies taken from around the world, but mainly Canada and Australia; How does if work?

    The mechanism for redress, seemingly, simply does exist.

    I used the FOIA to ask for information about the expected training requirements for gp’s in adhd/autism. It followed the NHS sale of the Priory Group from Acadia, and after patients deaths including a 14 yrd old girl, to Waterland amidst a flurry of light-touch public procurement processes ~ which are permitted Light-Touch requirements ~ being seen to comply as a post Brexit concession to the EU.

    As is now the standard and legal response, the information isn’t held ~ by anyone and including the ICB and GMC! Stumped, I referred the Health and Social Care Professional Conduct Authority to the Advertising Standards Authority.

    SWE are silent on these matters!

    Unison, the SWU and BASW really ought to have something to say and more important do ~ social worker registration was championed by the profession maybe it’s time to think again ~ the jurisdictional issues between SWE and Councils are frankly anything but right or light touchw. One Authority simply following the irrationality of the other and, if truth outs, only to please the whims of the banking and building sector services who have an eye future tendering opportunity.

    How many SWE cases are actually about resource insufficiency? In the adhd/autism case mentioned above gp’s have said that there’s been a 400% increase in patient demand and not that their employer/owner hasn’t employed more doctors while racking-off millions before sale; not that the IT software flags up mental disorder codings, and largely unqualified diagnosis, as a means of claiming a higher patient premium ~ social work is being conducted in a secretively hostile environment.

    The social workers that dare talk with me a very scared ~ it’s time to drive out fear. SWE are harvesting information and testing what the profession will and will not tolerate ~ enough already.

    Is a collective refusal to register an option? Or is registration with BASW a viable alternative ~ this was the initially stated intention afterall. Once over it was a Local Authority and Departmental responsibility ~ the regulators have come and gone, just saying!

    • Jim Greer January 18, 2024 at 3:49 pm #

      I served on panels with the HCPC when they were the Social Work regulator. Their processes were much more robust and fairer than those of Social Work England and the aim was to ensure that social workers were currently fit to practise. Sanctions were never used as a form of punishment and if fitness to practise was impaired then the registrant was given every chance to show that they could redeem the situation of this was possible. However, there was no process for feeding back to employers that their support of a registrant had been inadequate. It was and is the social worker themselves whose practise is being scrutinised, not their agency. The positive thing about Rachel’s case is that the poor practise of her employer and the regulator were revealed. However, not many social workers have the stoicism, courage and conviction to go through years of tribunals and hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenses (crowdfunded in this case).

      • Trevor F January 19, 2024 at 8:04 am #

        Very interesting to read Jim. More confirmation for me that SWE is a dangerous waste of money to social workers and social work. Let’s hope they go the same way as the GSCC – quickly!

  8. Yasmin January 17, 2024 at 11:51 pm #

    ‘Well done Rachel for defending your rights to an opinion. My own views are that everyone has a right to express themselves as which ever gender they wish..we dont choose our sexuality. The real bullies are those hiding behind their little positions of power within the very organisations that are meant to be fair and transparent (laughable I know)…not expecting any counter challenge to their ridiculous accusations. Well done Rachel, for fighting back and not bowing under the awful pressure you must have been under. Genuine harrasment and bullying is one thing…but unfair punitive measures from ‘the thought police’ is another. No wonder we lose trust and respect for such organisations that are meant to play fair and protect us. Shame on you SWE. A fuming sw colleague. Old and ugly enough not to be intimdated. 😉

  9. Jonathan Ritchie January 18, 2024 at 2:29 am #

    First there was Felix Ngole, now Rachel Meade.

    The Social Work profession has lost all claim to be committed to diversity, equality, inclusion and human rights.

    • Jim Greer January 18, 2024 at 3:39 pm #

      There is no comparison whatsoever between these cases. Rachel expressed views about the competing rights of two different groups within society. These issues are not currently settled and can be legitimately debated by any citizen. She also raised concerns about a body which advocated for gender affirmative care. The influence of this body was criticised in the Cass review on the Tavistock Gender service and the tide is turning away from gender affirming care in the UK, Austrtalia and other countries. Rachel expressed concerns about the rights of women and the safety of children from potentially dangerous interventions. You can disagree with her views on these things but they are not evidence of discrimination against anyone.

    • Trevor F January 19, 2024 at 8:08 am #

      Strange conclusion Jonathan. I think you mean SWE have lost all claim to be committed to EDI – but we have all known this for a long long time…

  10. Tired social worker January 18, 2024 at 8:45 am #

    Well done to you Rachel! I am sick to death of the regulator and employers telling us what we can and can’t think or say in our private lives. Reminds me of the ‘Sonia Appleby’ case at the Tavistock Clinic. We work with a variety of people who gave different beliefs, lifestyles and so on, I have never once treated that person different just because my personal belief does not align with their’s, during work hours I’m 100% focused on my client. What I think in my home is no one’s business!

    • Abdul January 22, 2024 at 12:00 pm #

      Well said, could not agree more.

  11. Holly Gordon January 18, 2024 at 2:37 pm #

    Well done to Rachel who has been treated appallingly. I hope Social Care Wales take note of this outcome.

  12. Jojo January 19, 2024 at 8:23 am #

    Well done Rachel for fighting for your rights most would have given up and shame on social work england nothing but bullies not even an apology. I hope you will be heavily compensated .

  13. Abdul January 19, 2024 at 7:15 pm #

    Well done Rachel for taking on SWE and WCC. I followed this case, and was shocked to learn she was still reported, despite having her social media account set to private, and in her not engaging in any form of hate towards any individual or group. Her only crime was of having an opinion in an ongoing public debate, and in the wrong / intolerant person seeing and reporting it. The main issue is the majority of decent and good people have no issues with genuine trans people who have gender dysphoria or believe they were born in the wrong body, and just want to get on with their lives, like everybody else. What I and many others are concerned about are heterosexual males who present themselves as ‘Trans’ in order to gain access to private only spaces. There are women only spaces for a reason, and that is for safety.

  14. Ryan Webb January 20, 2024 at 1:50 am #

    The reassuring outcome of this employment tribunal is that women employed in the profession of social work (85% of whose members are women) can continue to publicly advocate for the long-established right of women and girls to safely and separately access domains which have hitherto always been singularly and exclusively available to women and girls. If the tribunal’s decision had gone the other way, it could rightly have been viewed as the ultimate triumph of what many might describe as “the patriarchy”.

  15. Frasierfanclib1 January 21, 2024 at 11:30 am #

    Unfortunately just about every government department, university and charity has been captured by Stonewall Law. Until this is extricated we will come up against this time and time again. The punishment is in the process.

  16. Annonymous January 21, 2024 at 3:25 pm #

    I am pleased the social worker won this case, there is a real problem with censorship and forcing the profession to accept one type of thinking when it comes to social issues. We look perspective and diversity of opinion which is devoid of insight in to the real experiences of people we work with in society.

    Also, social work england should learn from this, not every complaint about what people do in their personal lives should be held to scrutiny because it maybe their employer sending thus through. Behind the employer is another human being who may just be better at hiding their own prejudices.

    Let this case set a precedent for local authorities and social work england

  17. RS January 21, 2024 at 9:00 pm #

    This is such a relief. Not having personal views policed by the regulator.
    For some faith based groups is essential to have gender separate spaces. I’m glad that we can advocate on behalf of that and not have to compromise.

  18. Joseph K January 22, 2024 at 1:21 pm #

    SWE’s much applauded case examiner system working well then . Settlement in court next month , perhaps it’s a well researched manifestation of personal bias at play between triage ,investigation and an the anonymous and privately held case examiner process (accepted outcomes). The court judgment is interesting in the respect of heavily critiquing SWE investigation and case examiner decision making . Rachel went through much to achieve justice ,no doubt facing a notoriously prolonged and adversarial process . Thankfully she had the evidence , courage , health ,support ,resources
    (Crowd funded) and fortitude to fight back.


  19. Rowena Pye January 22, 2024 at 11:06 pm #

    I cannot believe how adversarial, punitive and immoral SWE are. Why would anyone want to work for such an oppressive regime??!!

  20. Deluxe January 22, 2024 at 11:43 pm #

    Well done Rachel.😄

  21. Robert haggarty January 24, 2024 at 11:24 am #

    Moral of the story – trust no one and don’t have friends from work on your Facebook page. Social workers are scared what to call people now and all the pronoun nonsense. SWE is now used as a kangaroo court for HR departments that won’t face or deal with low level issues head on. Some of the referrals you read on SWE website are hilarious. “They never wrote notes”. Er, didn’t that used to be a managers job and HR? Thank you 2 spirits

  22. Samuel January 26, 2024 at 9:06 am #

    Easy and of course justified to criticise SWE but they stand on the shoulders of other so called social work advocating organisations which give them the ‘ moral’ authority to treat individual practitioners with punishment focused investigations. Perhaps this will jolt BASW members to ask some questions about the peas in a pod chummyness it has with SWE.

    • VH January 26, 2024 at 11:54 am #

      Glad to see this case being covered in The Guardian…

      Given its treatment of Meade, it seems clear that SWE believes people can indeed choose their sex – not only as a matter of legal registration, via the gender certification process introduced by the last Labour government, but as a matter of “fact, biology and reality” – even if they have undergone no medical treatment and their transition is a purely social one (clothes, name-change and so on). It is the core of gender-critical belief that this is not true.


  23. Carter January 27, 2024 at 8:10 am #

    In response to Samuel there has been a growing disquiet amongst some of us BASW members regarding the mostly uncritical validation of how SWE chooses to ‘investigate’ social workers and also its Registration process. I know one BASW member who resigned after raising the vilification of Rachel Meade in a members forum who then themselves were accused of bigotry. It’s inconceivable that BASW central are not aware of these exchanges given its strong support of the decisions taken by SWE against Rachel Meade. BASW should be an independent robust social work and social worker advocate not constantly filtering its position and statements through the prism of SWE.

    • Jean January 27, 2024 at 6:12 pm #

      The same thing happened to me in a BASW forum and I was accused of antisemitism. The mind boggles.

  24. Mel January 30, 2024 at 10:37 am #

    Whatever the silence from BASW and SWE is meant to achieve they’re not going to scare us anymore. The Law is clear and no amount of veiled threats of bigotry is going to cut it now. Some of us remember when a PSW told a colleague to remove a copy of a Harry Potter paperback because the author was “a transphobe”. No debate against tolerated, do it or you’ll be disciplined, all in the name of social work values apparently. None of this will wash any longer. Bullying because someone decides you need to be put on the ‘right’ path might go down well in the leadership pals circuit but the fear is no longer there for us. We got an email telling us not to discuss this case as it was “sensitive”. Once we would have remained silence, but we didn’t, we talked, some for some against the outcome, but everyone knew that the power to report those we didn’t agree with was no longer in our gift. It stated as a discussion, it ended as a discussion. Isn’t that how social work discourse is meant to be?

  25. Too long in the tooth February 15, 2024 at 10:48 pm #

    I have been a social worker for over 30 years. Whilst I had welcomed the idea of social work being a regulated profession, sadly it has done nothing whatsoever for our profession. SWE is just another bureaucratic body which we have to pay the privilege to be a member of. There is a total lack of accountability on their part with this brave woman having to challenge via the courts to get redress.