We were back in court today for the final day of the hearing of Mermaids versus the Charity Commission regarding the charitable status of LGB Alliance.
The day began with submissions from Karon Monaghan KC, representing LGBA. She addressed the charitable objects of LGBA as set out in its Articles of Association, which she argued were “clear and unambiguous”, suggesting that there was no need to look beyond the words on the page.
She argued that LGBA is involved in a lot of work that has nothing to do with trans rights and that while the group engages in political lobbying, this is done to advance its charitable aims.
Ms Monaghan re-emphasised Iain Steele’s submission from yesterday that the public benefits from a debate between charities with differing views, and argued that Mermaids has no standing to bring the case.
We then moved to the final reply from Michael Gibbon KC, representing Mermaids. He again submitted that the Tribunal could and should look beyond the words on the page in order to interpret LGBA’s objects, which Mermaids say are not properly charitable and for the public benefit.
Mr Gibbon submitted that there is no basis in law for the proposition that debate or conflict between two organisations is in itself in the public interest.
He repeated that Mermaids does have standing to bring the case, but invited the Tribunal to make findings on the other issues in the case whatever its decision on standing. Ms Monaghan supported this submission.
Iain Steele for the Charity Commission, however, requested that if Mermaids is found not to have standing, the Tribunal stop there and not make further findings.
The Tribunal gave no indication of when we can expect a judgment, but given the complexity of the issues we anticipate a wait of at least several weeks, likely months. We will keep you updated.
Notes to editors
1. Read the appeal grounds in full as filed here as well as the supporting documents, skeleton argument and witness statements for Paul Roberts, John Nicolson MP and Dr Belinda Bell, as well as counsel’s speaking note. [Please note unconfirmed references in the speaking note relate to a pending Tribunal transcript from the previous hearing].
2. Mermaids is a UK-wide charity (registered charity number 1160575) supporting transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, their families and professionals involved in their care. Our goal is to create a world where gender-diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive. Services include a helpline, web chat and online forums for parents and young people, as well as face-to-face meet-ups for peer support. We also provide training to organisations and advocate for a fairer society for trans young people.
4. This appeal is being crowdfunded.
5. Any media enquiries should be directed to [email protected].