Lies, damned lies and statistics: Census dirty tricks won’t stop us
On Friday the 19th February we put the ONS on notice that we would seek an urgent judicial review if they did not withdraw their unlawful guidance accompanying “what is your sex” in the Census by Wednesday 24nd.
ONS pushed ahead regardless and secretly launched the on-line Census on Monday 22nd – a full 27 days before Census day on 21st March – despite knowing there were doubts over its legality.
They have now refused to take the Guidance down saying it is too late to remove it because the Census has already started
By accepting census submissions a month early means the Guidance is, technically, already live so every single day counts. The longer the Guidance stays up the more difficult it will be to convince a judge to intervene and take it down.
We had two choices. Accept that we’d run out of time – let the Census run with the unlawful guidance – and then seek a declaration from the Court that the Guidance had been unlawful.
Or we redouble our efforts and find a way to get into Court even sooner.
Undeterred, on Thursday we instructed top barrister, Jason Coppel QC, to find us a way to get this Guidance stopped.
By Friday we had lodged papers with the High Court asking for two things. We are now seeking an interim order next week to get the Guidance taken down, followed by an urgent hearing for a ruling on the lawfulness of the Guidance. The aim of that hearing will be that the Guidance is declared unlawful and quashed.
In other words, we want the Guidance to be taken down immediately on the basis that there is an unacceptable risk of unlawfulness in people answering the question on sex incorrectly. The Court would not be declaring the Guidance unlawful in this first stage; that would need to happen in Judicial Review later, possibly after the Census has run. But the practical result is that people would be answering the sex question without guidance telling them they could put their gender identity instead. The integrity of the sex question in the Census would be preserved.
The result of the ONS shenanigans over the last week will be to cost us all a lot more money. We must now stretch our crowd-funder target by at least another £20,000 and possibly more in the remaining days to cover the extra legal work. We have already incurred considerable costs to get this far. Needing to draft in a top QC ramps this up even further. You should be angry. We certainly are.
You can read more details on our website:
Our legal challenge is getting some high profile coverage. Nicola Williams was interviewed about the case on BBC Radio 4's Womans Hour last week.
We are also covered in the Mail On Sunday again this weekend:
And mentioned in this fascinating article about how the Suffragettes battled over the Census one hundred years ago
We are making history once more. Thank you for joining us in this fight to defend the sex-based rights of women and girls.
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