SNP MP threatens legal action against comedy club after show cancellation

Joanna Cherry's event at the Stand was cancelled following complaints from staff over her views on transgender issues.

Joanna Cherry threatens legal action against comedy club after staff refuse to work STV News

Joanna Cherry has threatened to take legal action against a comedy club in Edinburgh after an event she was due to speak at was cancelled amid concerns from staff.

The SNP MP was due to speak at an event at the Stand Comedy Club entitled ‘In Conversation With Joanna Cherry’ as part of the Edinburgh Fringe programme in August.

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.

Cherry, who has been outspoken in her views on trans and women’s rights and has been critical of the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, claimed after that she had been “no-platformed because I’m a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views”.

After receiving legal advice, the Edinburgh South West MP has claimed the venue has acted “unlawfully”, and has asked for an apology.

She revealed on Monday that she will take “whatever legal action necessary” against the comedy club so that the event proceeds, stating that she has been “discriminated against”.

A statement from David McKie of Levy & McRae, on behalf of Cherry, reads: “In January, I accepted an invitation from The Stand to speak at an event in The Fringe this coming August.

“To my disappointment, and after initially backing the event, the Board of The Stand cancelled the event, citing concerns expressed by staff who were unwilling to work at it.

“The event has been running for four years and has a wide and diverse range of speakers, including from various political backgrounds.

“I immediately required to defend my reputation. In the last few days, I have been greatly heartened by the support I have received.

“Many well-informed people have made it clear that they consider the decision of The Stand to be both unacceptable and discriminatory. Despite those views, and my stated desire that the Stand ‘see sense’, there has been no reversal of the decision.

“Accordingly, I decided to seek legal advice on the issue and on my options. I have received the opinion of the eminent and leading human rights advocate, Aidan O’Neill KC who considers that The Stand have acted unlawfully.

“My solicitor David McKie of Levy & McRae agrees with that view and has today written to The Stand on my behalf. Given the very public statements which have been made about me by The Stand and in the press and on social media, some of which have been threatening and/or abusive, I have decided to release both my solicitor’s letter and the opinion of senior counsel.”

The show was part of a series that includes interviews with film director Ken Loach, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

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.

The venue later confirmed that there were not enough staff willing to allow the event to go forward.

Cherry added in her statement that the actions of the Stand are “symptomatic of a wider problem in our society”.

The statement continued: “The actions of the Stand and all that has followed thereon are symptomatic of a wider problem in our society. I am very concerned that those who hold perfectly legitimate views on a variety of issues, including women like me are regularly being misrepresented, de-platformed and, in some cases, facing damage to or the loss of our livelihoods.

“This is often accompanied by online abuse and threats. The debate on gender self-identification is a very important one which must be allowed to take place, but I am a woman of many parts who was engaged to talk about my political life in general and I see the cancelling of my one-hour event as the thin end of the wedge.

“I am prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right not to be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against. This is not about money. My primary goal is to have the actions of the Stand acknowledged as unlawful and to ensure the event proceeds.

“I have asked The Stand to apologise to me too. If they don’t agree with my reasonable requests, I intend to ask the court to decide on the issue. I hope that my actions in defending myself will give courage to everyone particularly women who wish to express views on legitimate issues of public interest.

“That, after all, is the very job of a politician and one of the reasons I entered politics in the first place.”

The Stand Comedy Club has been contacted for comment.

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