Sophie Cook, appointed “Speak Out Champion” for CPS on 31 May 2022.

A “speak out champion” who won’t speak for all

Politics and prosecution make for a dangerous combination, and women are most likely to lose out

Artillery Row

On 31 May 2022 the CPS made an exciting announcement: the appointment of a new “Speak Out Champion”. The purported aim was to improve confidence amongst employees at the CPS to speak “openly about their experiences”, to help the CPS uphold its organisational values “to treat everyone with respect”, and — ominously — “as part of the CPS’s continued cultural drive to embed EDI” (Equality Diversity and Inclusion) throughout the workforce. This position is well remunerated with public money: £31,304 for four days work a month. 

Few could argue with a drive to promote “respect for all” or pay people a fair wage for helping that drive. But the appointment of Sophie Cook as the “Champion” does not inspire confidence that “all” really means “all” or that this is money well spent. 

Ms Cook is a transwoman, active over many years as a “transgender rights campaigner” and even taking a place in the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme. 

In 2019 Ms Cook organised “pronoun stickers” for children in Brighton and Hove, mindful of the harm that “wrong pronouns” can do. Ms Cook is clearly less delicate around the feelings of women who object to being referred to in dehumanising terms, however. The word “terf” has been accepted in many courts as a derogatory term, but the new “EDI champion” is not shy of deploying it in various tweets:

Ms Cook also regards the LGB Alliance as a “hate group”: 

I suggested politely via Twitter to Ms Cook that perhaps the CPS had more significant operational priorities than seeking to “embed” a particular political ideology amongst its workforce. I was immediately blocked. Max Hill QC the DPP also tweeted his congrats but wouldn’t allow anyone to reply to his tweet. I asked a few questions by the medium of quote tweeting — for example what would happen to any CPS employee who objected to being called a “terf”? I didn’t expect an answer and none came. 

It is particularly disappointing seeing our country’s independent prosecuting authority adopt this kind of performative “inclusion”. In reality, it is promoting the political ideology that elevates gender identity expression above the protected characteristic of sex.

The CPS has already sustained reputational harm over ideology

It is not very kind of me to point out that diversity and inclusion are unlikely to be served by appointing another white, middle aged man as their champion — but I have no legal or moral obligation to be “kind” about any of this, and I certainly have no inclination. The CPS has already sustained serious and expensive reputational harm over their fealty to this ideology. It has endorsed unlawful criminal charges against Kate Scottow to deny her Article 10 rights, and spent large sums of public money to collaborate with Stonewall on hate crimes guidance for schools — which was so incoherent and so clearly unlawful, it was hastily pulled at the first whiff of a judicial review.

It is high time for the terms “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion” to be reclaimed. If you really mean to be their champion, then you must accept that “EDI” goes beyond promoting acceptance of different skin colours and sexual orientation. It encompasses genuine acceptance and protection of a plurality of views. We have fundamental legal rights to express our views on matters of significant public interest. It should cause us all serious concern to think the CPS in particular isn’t our champion.

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