Help defend freedom of speech: Sanctioned by Social Work England

by Rachel Meade

Help defend freedom of speech: Sanctioned by Social Work England

by Rachel Meade
Rachel Meade
Case Owner
I am a social worker who was sanctioned by Social Work England and may lose my job for questioning the reform to Gender Recognition Act.
19
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Rachel Meade
Case Owner
I am a social worker who was sanctioned by Social Work England and may lose my job for questioning the reform to Gender Recognition Act.
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This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Nov. 30, 2022

Hearing postponed

Just in - Hearing postponed,

So sorry to announce that the hearing has been postponed tomorrow as unfortunately they did not have judicial resources available to hear it.  All parties were very k…

Read more


My name is Rachel Meade. I am a social worker who has spent my working life in the health and social care sector. I have been improperly sanctioned by Social Work England, the regulatory body for social work registration, for speaking up about women's rights during the government’s consultation period on reform to the Gender Recognition Act. Following the sanctioning by Social Work England I was suspended from work by my employer and continue to subject to a disciplinary process and have been informed that I am at risk of losing my job, which is my vocational career.


I have instructed my legal team Cole Khan Solicitors to instigate proceedings against Social Work England & my Employer, I am taking my case to an employment tribunal as both these organization's continue to subject me to discrimination on the basis of my protected beliefs under the Equality Act 2010.


I am crowdfunding to pay legal fees to take this case to an employment tribunal. It is essential that Social Work professionals are able to express views and raise concerns about areas of change to public policy that may impact all clients across all protected characteristics. There should be no area of legislative change that is beyond question, particularly in areas of health and social care, where clients are reliant on professionals to constantly interrogate new evidence to enable them to act in their best interests.


This is even more important due to the release on Dec 21st 2021 of the Women's and Equalities Committee Report, recommending that the Government enact a policy of allowing the changing of sex merely by self-declaration with all independent safeguarding processes removed.


Who am I?

 I originally qualified as a nurse and then later trained as a social worker which I have been for over 20 years. I currently work in a busy hospital and have seen first-hand pressures facing the NHS and social care during the pandemic. I have a young family and like everyone try and juggle all demands in my daily life.


I am extremely concerned around the erosion of sex-based rights, as in some cases policies have changed ahead of the law in allowing men who identify as women to access previously single sex spaces for women such as domestic abuse shelters, rape crisis center's, female only bays on hospital wards, prisons, changing rooms etc. It is also a policy issue affecting women's sports and parliamentary all women shortlists. As a social worker these changes to public and social policy may affect our care of clients in areas where there may be a clash of rights and needs, and we should be able to debate and question changes in practice without fear of reprisal.


Social Work England and my employer are both bound by the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act to promote and foster good relationships between groups of people with protected characteristics and those without.  By discriminating against me when I flagged up concerns within a private group they are failing in their duty and inhibiting social workers from asking questions that may be necessary in the care of vulnerable clients.


Summary

I was investigated by SWE due to a complaint being made by a 'friend' and former colleague who screen shot posts I shared within my private Facebook group over a 2 year period suggesting that these were indicative of my fitness to practice as a social worker. These posts were in the context of Government consultations to proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Many were from National newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Guardian as well as women's rights advocacy groups such as Fair Play for Women and Women's Place UK.


The proposed reforms included a self-declaration model of changing legal sex removing the current need for checks and balances- i.e. the requirement to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to be seen by 2 medical professionals. Since the idea was introduced, some policy makers have acted ahead of the law by allowing men who identify as women to access women only single sex spaces as well as encouraging schools, under anti bullying policies, to let boys that identify as girls to use girls' toilets and changing rooms and share accommodation on residential trips. Schools are also encouraged to socially transition pupils with dysphoria within school setting without informing parents. We have also seen police forces across UK recording crime statistics by self-declared gender identity instead of sex skewing crime statistics.


It is vital that professionals working with vulnerable members of the public, in health, social care, education, with children and families, the elderly and within the criminal justice system are able to interrogate these ideas and policy changes without fear of losing their job.


I am in the process of challenging Social Work England - my professional regulatory body who I believe have discriminated against me due to my gender critical beliefs. They placed a public Fitness to practice warning sanction on my record for a year. I was suspended by my employer as a result of Social Work England's decision and am facing a disciplinary process which I have been told may end in my dismissal.


Call to action - I am crowdfunding to raise money to fund my case so I can challenge Social Work England and my public sector employer for discriminating against me due to my gender critical beliefs.


What are we trying to achieve? - We need to stop regulators and statutory bodies from discriminating against professionals who are gender critical and express their protected beliefs. We need to further strengthen equality and human rights protections so other people are not afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.


What is the next step in the case? –  I am continuing to challenge Social Work England's discriminatory sanctioning of me and the actions of my employer and issue my claims in the Employment Tribunal and I need financial help to help me fund my legal costs to help me fight my case.


Please donate to support this challenge and share with anyone who may wish to support me.


How much we are raising and why? - I am trying to raise £50,000 to go towards legal representation.


Thank you so much for anything you are able to contribute and / or sharing my crowd funder page.

Rachel



Update 13

Rachel Meade

Nov. 30, 2022

Hearing postponed

Just in - Hearing postponed,

So sorry to announce that the hearing has been postponed tomorrow as unfortunately they did not have judicial resources available to hear it.  All parties were very keen for it to go ahead.

The hearing is to be re-booked and will likely be heard on a date between February 2022 - July 2022.

Will update you as soon as we have a new date.

Huge thanks to my amazing legal team Cole and Khan and Naomi Cunningham for all their hard work this week.

Thanks again for everyone's continued support.

Rachel xx

Update 12

Rachel Meade

Nov. 29, 2022

2 Days until my Employment tribunal!

Its finally here after 2 long years -  My employment tribunal against Social Work England and Westminster Council for discrimination begins this Thursday 1st December 2022 at London Central Court. 

This is my chance to try and ensure that Social Workers and anyone else who works under regulatory bodies hopefully won't have to work in fear of having the 'wrong' views or of being investigated for questioning prevailing ideologies.

I understand tribunal tweets should be live tweeting so you can follow it online.

I'm still short on funding so am making one final push to ask for anything anyone can afford to contribute. I know times are really hard so understand if you can't donate but if you could share this update I would be really grateful.


Thank you so much everyone for all your support - fingers crossed for Thursday.

Rachel xx


Update 11

Rachel Meade

Nov. 19, 2022

-UPDATE - COURT HEARING- 1-9 December 2022 - I NEED YOUR HELP

I will be in the London Central Employment tribunal in less than 2 weeks - Please help me get there by donating.

My gender critical discrimination case against Social Work England and my employer will be held at the employment tribunal between 1- 8th December 2022!

This is a hugely significant case as it will be the first that a professional regulator is being sued for discriminating against a registrant on the basis of her expressing her gender critical beliefs.

A win will provide confidence to all regulated individuals that they are entitled to hold and express their protected beliefs without fear and reprisal of potentially career ending fitness to practice prosecutions.  It is of paramount importance that social workers and other regulated professionals such as nurses, therapists, teachers are enabled to question and discuss practices and concerns within or workplaces to help mitigate risks for our clients. This is a central tenent to safeguarding and at the heart of our work.

I still need to raise money too fund legal fees so if you can afford to contribute that would be great and I would be really grateful if you share the crowd funder son your social media so I can get the message out.

Thanks so much for your support.-

Rachel

Update 10

Rachel Meade

Oct. 31, 2022

Countdown to tribunal

Countdown to tribunal

My Employment tribunal hearing is getting closer and starts on 1st December 2022.

The hearing is about whether Social Work England and my employer discriminated against me unlawfully on grounds of my protected (gender-critical) belief when they put me through regulatory and disciplinary investigations over posts on a private Facebook page.

Social workers, therapists, counsellors, clinicians, and teachers up and down the country are frightened to voice their concerns about an “only affirm” approach to gender distress in children, or to act in good conscience in the best interests of the young people in their care, for fear of the kind of process that I have been put through. My case will have significance for all of these professionals, and others besides.

My legal team for the hearing is Shazia Khan of Cole Khan Solicitors, and I am delighted to announce that Naomi Cunningham from Outer Temple Chambers has accepted instructions to represent me at the hearing.   After having a previously unblemished career, I really don’t want other people to have to go through the stress and distress of 2 long years to clear your name.

I am optimistic that we can win this case and today we have finalised all case documents for the hearing ready to disclose to both parties: -   Social Work England and my employer.

My hearing is listed for 7 days, and there is a great deal of preparatory work still to be done. I still need to raise an estimated additional £50,000 to cover my legal costs to the end of the hearing.

If you can contribute any money to the Crowdfunder, share, tweet, like or email so more people are aware of what is happening this would be fantastic.

Thank you for all your continued support.

Rachel

Update 9

Rachel Meade

Oct. 20, 2022

Update on next steps

The next steps 

To date £60,000 of the target shown on the Crowd funder has been spent as I have been fighting on three fronts:- My Social Work England (SWE) fitness to practice hearing, my employer's disciplinary case and now the Employment tribunal. 

 Social work England chose not to pursue its case against me at the fitness to practice hearing as they realized they had no prospect of finding an impairment against me. The only way to gain proper public accountability for their actions is to take them to the tribunal and ensure that no other social workers are ever sanctioned for asking questions or placing safeguarding at the center of their practice.

This will be an important case to establish what members of regulated professions can and cannot say and how regulators and employers should deal with complaints about their speech. 

I need to further fundraise £35,000 to get to the Employment tribunal.  I would be really grateful if you could donate even £5 to help me get there and any shares or posts.

Thanks so much for your support

Rachel

Update 8

Rachel Meade

Oct. 18, 2022

Good news- no case to answer

My fitness to practice hearing with Social Work England (SWE) has concluded today.

I'm so pleased to report that SWE have discontinued its hearing against me.  They have concluded that there is no case to answer.  Sarah Phillimore , acting as my legal representative was fantastic. The hearing decision will be available on Social Work England's website.

Our response to the decision - https://t.co/xYfCZLBUBo

Its been a stressful couple of years and it has definitely taken its toll but I am so lucky to have had the support of so many amazing people. I received a message from a social worker in Lebanon this week about her concerns.  All the continued interest and support in my case has given me the confidence to keep going.

We have all been working towards the Employment Tribunal which is being held on 1st-8th December 2022 despite attempts to postpone it until next year. Hopefully this will give us the opportunity to address lots of the issues and concerns which may help others who find themselves  in similar situations.

I need a final push to raise more funds for my legal representation at the tribunal heading.

I would be really grateful if you could help me raise funds by sharing, posting or tweeting about my case and / or donating if you can.

Thanks again

Rachel


Update 7

Rachel Meade

Sept. 23, 2022

Social Work England and their Fitness to practice hearing etc

Hi,

Just a quick update to let you know what has been happening recently.

I have an appeal hearing with my employer in October.  

I then have my Fitness to Practice hearing (FTP) with Social Work England from 17th October to 21st October - we are hoping it will be open to the public and can then be re-tweeted.  Due to financial constraints, I am now being represented for the Fitness to Practice hearing by Sarah Phillimore and The Bad Law project who have amazingly stepped in to support me and I am so very grateful.

The Employment Tribunal against SWE and my employer was to start in December, however, both parties have now asked for it to be deferred to a later date citing that they need more time to prepare their case depending on the outcome of the Fitness to practice hearing.  My solicitors, Cole and Khan, and I are awaiting an update to see if a new date will be granted. I will need to continue to raise more money for the tribunal if it goes ahead.

Thanks once again for all your help, support and good wishes. 

It's been a long stressful process but am hoping it is nearing its end and will have a positive conclusion.  If we win, we are hopeful it will make other regulators, organisations and workplaces stop silencing individuals who hold and express concerns around gender ideology and stifle any debate.  

Update 6

Rachel Meade

Aug. 19, 2022

urgent help needed

Hi to everyone who has supported me so far, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.

Update – hearing dates

I finally have confirmed dates for the Fitness to Practice hearing that Social Work England are pursuing against me for sharing what they allege are discriminatory posts on my closed Facebook page. It will take place from October 17th to 21st 2022. This is my chance to clear my name and keep my registration, without which I cannot practice.

Social Work England  (SWE) is the regulatory body governing social work. 

I am hoping that my fitness to practice case will make them realize that my views are common place, worthy of respect and that regulatory bodies have obligations under the Equality Act.

It could have a huge impact on the way that similar vexatious cases are dealt with, against anyone else who works for a regulated profession.

Costs so far

This case has been costly because I have been fighting not only to keep my registration but also a separate case running alongside (which is now nearly resolved) that has allowed me to keep my job and am finally back at work. 

Unfortunately, I am now out of funds and have had to spend a substantial amount of my family savings, but still need to fight to keep my registration.

Costs going forward

I need to raise an additional £60,000 which will cover my legal costs. This includes the legal team’s fees for the 5 days that the case has been allocated (Barrister, Solicitor & Paralegal) as well as all legal casework leading up to the hearing.

I know it’s a huge amount of money to ask for, especially with a cost of living crisis and so many other legal cases in the pipeline, but if I lose this case not only will I potentially lose my registration, but then my livelihood; and ability to support my family as the high earner in our household.

If I can manage to raise this amount or more any excess funds would obviously be donated to support other legal cases.

Please could you help me spread the word on social media, tweet, or share on Facebook or via emails etc. as I am unable to do any publicity due to restrictions placed on me.

I can't thank you enough for your support.

Rachel



Update 5

Rachel Meade

June 24, 2022

Work disciplinary hearing on 28th June

Just a quick update to let you now what has been happening and due to all the delays detailed below to once again ask for any further shares / donations so I can continue to fight and fund my legal costs which have now been drained.

Social Work England (SWE) hearing - 

They were meant to provide me with their case evidence against me for the fitness to practice hearing at the beginning of June, which they didn't. They then stated they would supply it by 24th June (which they have not) and have now have said that it will be by provided by the16th July.  The date for the fitness to practice hearing is not yet arranged, (they had previously stated would take place probably in August / September). It is incredibly exasperating as SWE could have avoided this costly and distressing process by after admitting they had made mistakes. Simply  reviewed their decision and agreed there was no further need for an investigation or any sanctions. As a professional body I'm really not sure what they hope to gain other than to silence any other social workers by making an example  of me.

Westminster City Council (WCC) Work disciplinary hearing- 

I was to have my hearing on 23rd May but it was postponed at the last minute due to WCC having to look over all my submissions prior to the hearing.  It was rearranged for 28th June and to date is still going ahead

Employment Tribunal-

No update - still set for December


Update 4

Rachel Meade

May 4, 2022

Case update

Hi,

Just a quick update to let you know that my Employment tribunal date has been set for the 1st December 2022.

My fitness to Practice hearing with Social Work England will likely go ahead in August - we are awaiting confirmation for the date.

I have been told by my employer Westminster Council that they will be going ahead with disciplinary and are yet to confirm a date.

To continue with support from my legal team I am reliant on donations and need to raise further funds to continue so would be so grateful if you could share my appeal far and wide so I can continue with my actions.

Thanks again for all your kindness and support it really means a lot and makes the days much brighter.

Rachel 

Update 3

Rachel Meade

March 25, 2022

Initial hearing on March 29th!

My discrimination case against Social Work England and Westminster Council is now going to an administrative hearing on Tuesday, 29th March, when my legal team will be presenting my claims. The bulk of the work has been behind the scenes so far and the funds I have are already accounted for in the work already carried out.

My legal team are working incredibly hard to pull together evidence and to make the strongest possible case for me and by extension all Social Workers and employees in regulated professions. It is vitally important that we are able to express views on legitimate political processes, particularly when those processes involve changes to the law that will impact on our service users.

As such, it is vital that I am able to win both the Employment Tribunal against Westminster Council and Social Work England as well as the forthcoming Fitness to Practice hearing with Social Work England.

As Social Workers, we must be able to balance the needs and legal rights of every service user we support. There will be occasions when some of those needs and rights are in conflict and we have a statutory duty to ensure that any conflict of rights and needs are resolved equitably, while promoting and fostering good relations between different groups protected by the 2010 Equality Act.

Two years ago, a single complaint was made about my sharing posts on my private Facebook page relating to reform of the Gender Recognition Act. This was at a time when the public were actively encouraged to engage in the political process of law reform via a public consultation process.

In the time since then, the landscape of understanding about this issue has changed rapidly and is now firmly in the wider public domain. The interim report from Dr Hilary Cass into the operation of the Tavistock GIDS has confirmed that the guidelines for treating children with gender dysphoria need urgent review. NICE have confirmed that the evidence base for the medical treatment pathway of children is very low and as a result, Sweden, France and Finland have recently revised their practice.

The ruling in the Maya Forstater case has confirmed that holding beliefs about the immutability of sex is protected under the Equality Act. Social Worker and child safeguarding expert Sonia Appleby won her employment tribunal case against the Portman & Tavistock Trust, after raising concerns about the treatment of the rising number of children referred to them.

I know that there have been numerous fundraising campaigns recently for other cases, but I desperately need your support in order to take my case forward. Anything you are able to donate would be incredibly gratefully received - if you are not able to donate could I ask you to share the page ss widely as possible, to raise as much awareness as possible of my case?


Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart

Rachel


Update 2

Rachel Meade

Feb. 10, 2022

Case update

Hi,

Following on from the interventions of my legal team, Social Work England  (SWE) directed the Case examiners to re visit their decision. The case examiners tried to be recused from doing this but Social work England insisted.

The case examiners have referred the case to a Fitness to Practice hearing and their original decision and report has been removed.  This means I no longer have a sanction against me on my registration and on their public website pending the Fitness to Practice hearing. This is my chance to clear my name and professional reputation.

I will be notified of a date for the Fitness to Practice hearing but am unclear if it will be before my initial employment tribunal hearing on 29th March or not.

I need to ensure that I have enough funds to pay my legal costs and continue my fight. I would be hugely grateful for any further donations or shares or forwards of my crowd funding page.

Thank you so much for anything you are able to do

Rachel

Update 1

Rachel Meade

Jan. 26, 2022

Tribunal claims are in

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone.  I've been really touched by all your kind  and inspiring messages of support and your generosity in helping me fight my case. 


Here is an update on some of the things that have been happening.

My case was featured in The Times highlighting concerns over silencing rights to freedom of speech and impact and real life consequences. 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk//article/social-worker-rachel-meade-suspended-over-gender-critical-facebook-posts-d8hdx7fmx

Following on from the Times article Lord Macdonald raised the issue in the House of Lords debate on 17th January when discussing the Police, Crime and Sentencing and Courts Bill.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2022-01-17/debates/D4DCBA9B-3C6A-4F1C-B932-5E04908DF13C/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill 


My legal team have now registered the claims with the Employment tribunal


If you are able to please can you continue to help spread the word for me by :-

  • Posting a link to Facebook for my crowd funding page
  • Tweeting in support.
  • Pledge again
  • Share my campaign with colleagues, friends and family

     Thank you again for all your help

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