The equality commission has concluded their inquiry into a string of internal grievances against their chair, following a directive from the equality minister, Kemi Badenoch, to reevaluate the procedure.
The EHRC announced its decision to close the investigation into Kishwer Falkner’s handling of complaints after conducting a review.
The board of the EHRC will address any remaining matters with all involved parties in private, according to a statement.
Falkner, who denied any wrongdoing, expressed gratitude for the conclusion of the investigation regarding unproven allegations against her.
In May, it was revealed that the EHRC was investigating 40 alleged complaints made by 12 current or former employees against her.
Falkner’s supporters claimed that the inquiry was a targeted attack on her, labeling it a “witch-hunt” orchestrated by pro-transgender employees. This came after the EHRC, led by Falkner, supported amending the Equality Act 2010 to include biological sex as a protected characteristic, potentially excluding transgender women from single-sex areas.
According to insiders within the organization, this statement is not an accurate portrayal of the complaints. While some may relate to transgender policy, the main concerns focus on a perceived lack of independence and impartiality within the EHRC.
In May, Channel 4 News disclosed information about several grievances, stating that they exposed a “toxic environment” within the EHRC. These complaints included allegations of mistreatment, intimidation, and bias.
After Channel 4’s report, the EHRC board suspended their investigation of Falkner and could not reach a resolution. In July, Badenoch, who is responsible for equality matters and also serves as the Secretary of Trade and Business, requested a prominent lawyer to intervene and review the procedure.
The EHRC released a statement on Tuesday stating that they fully participated in the review and their board has now reviewed the guidance that has come from it.
The EHRC’s interim deputy chair, Lesley Sawyers, who is also the EHRC commissioner for Scotland, “has decided that the investigation into the chairwoman should now close”.
The board will be conducting a thorough assessment of the process failures that occurred, as well as a review of its rules and governance, in order to make any necessary changes.
Falkner, a former member of the Liberal Democrat party who now serves as a crossbench peer, stated that the EHRC is committed to safeguarding and advancing equality and human rights for all. As these issues come to a resolution, she hopes that there will be an opportunity to reset and revitalize their efforts in serving the British population.
She stated that the EHRC has been undergoing a transformation plan in order to effectively enforce equality laws as the country’s regulatory body. The staff plays a crucial role in achieving this goal and she takes pride in their dedication towards becoming a reliable and inclusive equality regulator for all.
Falkner’s statement seems to hint at the action taken by the EHRC during her time as leader to take a position in the discussion on transgender rights that is similar to that of Badenoch and the government, by endorsing a modification of the Equality Act.
In 2021, when Falkner accepted the position at EHRC, she sparked controversy with her statement in a newspaper interview. She expressed that it was understandable if some individuals did not believe that someone who identified as a different gender than their birth sex was truly of that gender.