Pictures have been released of the Open University ‘academics’ adjudged to have hounded criminology expert Professor Jo Phoenix for having gender-critical beliefs. The Mail has the reveal.
Criminology expert Prof. Jo Phoenix, 59, saw her name dragged through the mud at the Open University once her views on the importance of biological sex became known.
Despite assuring colleagues she was not transphobic, a small group of trans activist lecturers refused to set aside their personal politics to allow freedom of opinion.
Instead, ringleader Dr. Leigh Downes, a female who identifies as non-binary, led a campaign against Prof. Phoenix – publishing an open letter “in order to create a pile-on”, which amassed 368 staff signatures.
Last week, in an extraordinary judgment, the participants were criticised for their vindictive motives; as well as their evidence, which a judge described as “evasive” and “not credible”.
Dr Leigh Downes, who identifies as non-binary, led a campaign against Prof Jo Phoenix – publishing an open letter “in order to create a pile-on” which amassed 368 staff signatures
Head of Department Dr Deborah Drake likened Prof Phoenix to US sociologist Charles Murray, who has been perceived as racist. She refused to take action to stop the hostility against Prof Phoenix
Prof Louise Westmarland, a former friend, likened the under-fire professor to “a racist uncle at a dinner party”
Prof Peter Keogh “wanted to create a hostile environment for [Prof Phoenix] and her gender-critical beliefs at the OU”, the tribunal found
Dr Helen Bowes-Catton tweeted a link to the open letter against Prof Phoenix, which the tribunal found had contributed to the pile-on against her
Dr Chris Williams “displayed an irrational fear” in looking at obtaining an injunction against Prof Phoenix “and was hostile to the claimant because she had gender-critical beliefs”, the tribunal noted
Dr Nicola Snarey tweeted: “The Open University should be extremely concerned about what effect this gender-critical research network will have on their academic credibility”
Employment Judge Jennifer Young said: “On multiple occasions, whenever gender-critical views were expressed at the Open University, Dr. Downes complained or tried to get the view suppressed.
“The claimant’s gender-critical beliefs made Dr. Downes feel palpably uncomfortable.”
The judge went on: “The purpose of signing the open letter was to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for Prof. Phoenix.
“We conclude that having 368 of your colleagues sign a public letter saying that you are part of a group that is fundamentally transphobic, is stigmatising and damaging.”
Besides Dr. Downes, other signatories in the open letter – Dr. Helen Bowes-Catton, Dr. Nicola Snarey, Prof. Peter Keogh, Natalie Starkey and Dr. Chris Williams – were found to have contributed to the hostility, despite their claims that they were expressing academic freedom.
The judge dismissed this reasoning and wrote: “[It] was not an exercise in academic freedom. There is nothing scholastic about the open letter, it stigmatised the claimant and damaged her reputation.” …
The “punishing“ backlash eventually led Prof. Phoenix to leave the university in December 2021.
Last week, the court upheld almost 20 of her claims. A remedies hearing will take place to decide the damages owed to her.
It also ruled that the abuse Phoenix endured was harassment and the university’s failure to protect her from it made it complicit in this treatment.
Worth reading in full.