Stand comedy club apologises and U-turns on Joanna Cherry show ban

The SNP MP's series of events was cancelled following complaints from staff over her views on trans issues.

A comedy club has U-turned and apologised to Joanna Cherry after it cancelled her event amid concerns from staff.

The Stand, in Edinburgh, has issued a public apology to the SNP MP after previously cancelling the August event.

Cherry, who is outspoken in her views on trans and women’s rights and has been critical of the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, threatened legal action against the venue.

The Edinburgh South West MP claimed the venue acted “unlawfully”, and asked for an apology.

The comedy club released a statement on its social media channels confirming the news, saying the decision was “unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination against Ms Cherry”.

Cherry reacted to the news on Friday afternoon, saying that it was a “welcome move” and confirmed she would be taking part in the event.

In it’s statement, The Stand said it believed it would be “impossible” to stage Cherry’s show because a number of staff had expressed an “unwillingness to work” on the day it was due to take place, citing “their personal discomfort with some of Joanna Cherry’s views”.

Cherry responded: “This is a very welcome move by the Stand and I look forward to taking part in the show.

“I hope that the Stand’s full and frank acceptance that to discriminate against me on account of the philosophical beliefs which I hold as a lesbian and a feminist was unlawful will benefit other women and men by discouraging others form similar discrimination in the future.

“The details legal opinion I received remains published on my website and I hope it will be of benefit to others and will prevent institutions from undertaking this kind of unlawful discrimination in future.”

The SNP MP, was due to speak at an event at the comedy club entitled “In Conversation With Joanna Cherry” as part of the Edinburgh Fringe programme in August.

The Fringe show was originally scheduled as part of a series of interviews with political and arts guests including film director Ken Loach, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

However, the venue struggled to secure enough staff and confirmed a number of venue management and box office personnel were “unwilling” to provide availability for the shift.

The Stand, which was co-founded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said it did not endorse the views of any participant in the series, which was organised by independent producer Fair Pley.

Cherry went on to claim that she had been “no-platformed because I’m a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views”.

The event will now go ahead as planned and The Stand confirmed it will donate its share of the profit to the Edinburgh Food Project charity.

The Stand’s statement in full

“In a statement issued by The Stand Comedy Club earlier this month, we said that the forthcoming event In Conversation With Joanna Cherry could not go ahead as planned.

“We believed it would be impossible to stage because a number of staff had expressed an unwillingness to work on the day it was due to take place, citing their personal discomfort with some of Joanna Cherry’s views.

“Legal advice was taken before we reached this decision.

“As has been widely reported. Ms Cherry said she was considering legal action as a result of this.

“This prompted us to seek further external legal advice from a separate firm of solicitors.

“Having considered that new advice, we now accept that the previous decision that the event could not go ahead was unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination against Ms Cherry.

“We now publicly and unreservedly apologise to Ms Cherry.

“We have sent a detailed response to Ms Cherry and her legal team and have spoken to the event’s promoters to confirm that we will be able to host the event as originally planned.

“The Stand will donate our share of the profit from the event to one of our partner charities, Edinburgh Food Project.

“The management of the event will be discussed with staff in the coming weeks.

“We have always been clear that we oppose all forms of discrimination and recognise the rights of individuals to air views with which we may disagree.

“We hope that this apology draws a line under this episode and allows The Stand to get back to doing what it does best.”

In a legal letter, shared to the public, the venue apologised “unreservedly” to the politician, and they accepted that unlawful discrimination had been used against Cherry.

“Dear Sirs,
Salt ‘n’ Sauce Promotions Limited t/a The Stand Comedy Club
Joanna Cherry KC
‘In Conversation With…’ series of events

We are instructed by Salt ‘n’ Sauce Promotions Limited. We refer to your letter of 8 May 2023,
a copy of which has been provided to us by our clients.

‘In Conversation With Joanna Cherry’
Firstly, we wish to advise that our clients have written to Fair Pley to advise that the event ‘In
Conversation With Joanna Cherry’ may go ahead as originally planned. They are working with
Fair Pley to ensure that may be done. They hope that your client remains keen to appear and
we understand that Fair Pley have been/ will shortly be in touch with her office in that regard.

Unlawful Discrimination
Secondly, our clients accept that their previous decision that the event with Joanna Cherry KC
could not proceed constituted unlawful discrimination against Ms Cherry. They take full
responsibility for that decision.

While accepting responsibility, our clients wish to make it clear that it was not their intention to
unlawfully discriminate against anyone. The decision followed representations from some of the
key operational members of our client’s Fringe team who advised that they would be
uncomfortable working at the event (due to their own philosophical beliefs) and would be
unwilling to do so. As an employer, our clients were (and remain) keen to respect the wishes
of their staff and not compel anyone to work at an event where they would feel uncomfortable.

They were, however, concerned about the impact that cancelling the event could have on both
Fair Pley and your client.

In seeking to balance the interests and rights of the various parties involved, as well as properly
consider the significant operational difficulties they faced in trying to proceed with the event
without key members of staff, our clients sought external legal advice (from their previous
solicitors). Following receipt of that legal advice, the decision was made that the event would
not proceed.

Our clients have since approached us for legal advice in connection with this matter. Following
receipt of that advice and an Opinion from David Welsh, Advocate, they have reconsidered and
ultimately reversed their previous decision. They have now taken additional steps to ensure that
the event may proceed (should your client remain willing to appear), while respecting the views
of those members of staff who remain unwilling to work at the event.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the above is not an attempt by our clients to justify or support
their previous decision. Instead, they simply want us to set out for your client the circumstances
in which the wrong decision was reached and then subsequently corrected.

Thirdly, our clients unreservedly apologise to your client for their previous decision. They hope
that your client will accept their unreserved apology.
Our clients intend to publicly acknowledge that their previous decision unlawfully discriminated
against your client and publicly apologise to your client for that decision. They will shortly issue
a press release addressing those points. A copy of the press release is enclosed with this letter.

Profits from ‘In Conversation With Joanna Cherry’
Finally, our clients’ intention is to donate whatever profits they make from the event to one of
our clients’ partner charities, Edinburgh Food Project (should your client remain willing to

Our clients hope that your client will accept their apology for their previous decision and that the
event will now proceed as originally planned.
Given that your letter is in the public domain, our client is going to release this letter.

Yours faithfully,
For and on behalf of Lindsays LLP”

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