Whistleblower ‘forced out’ of Whitehall over gender beliefs

Eleanor Frances
Eleanor Frances will put her case at employment tribunal hearings later this year - David Rose for The Telegraph

A whistleblower claims she was forced out of the civil service by a “politicised” culture which led to her being marginalised for her gender-critical beliefs.

Eleanor Frances, who joined the civil service in 2019 after completing a PhD in engineering, managed a team of policy officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Her role, which involved working with government ministers, later moved to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

She is now taking both government departments to an employment tribunal on several grounds, including unfair constructive dismissal, and victimisation, as well as direct and indirect discrimination based on her philosophical beliefs.

Ms Frances believes that she was left with no option other than to quit the civil service last August after she blew the whistle on allegations of discrimination and breaches of impartiality on sex and gender issues.

She raised concerns formally about a series of issues internally, but claims that instead of being taken seriously, she was ignored and sidelined.

A ‘climate of fear’ around diversity policy

Her concerns included complaints about a “politicised climate of fear” around equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies, with the risk of negative professional consequences for civil servants who questioned the institutional position on issues such as sex and gender.

Ms Frances also claims that an internal “Gender Identity and Intersex” policy was adopted, without proper consultation, following a workplace assessment by Stonewall, the controversial gay rights organisation.

She says the policy’s use of politicised language and concepts – for example, defining “transphobia” as including the “denial/refusal to accept” someone’s gender identity – meant that civil servants were effectively compelled to recognise male people as women.

She also claimed that the policy of “self-identification” in government premises meant that men were allowed to access female single-sex facilities, with the threat of disciplinary action against any women who might object.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary
Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, to whom Eleanor Frances wrote a letter on behalf of concerned civil servants - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Ms Frances says that when she failed to get a response to her complaints internally, she went on to pen a letter to Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, on behalf of 42 staff from 16 departments warning that the politicised culture risks “improperly” influencing Government policy.

Mr Case was told in the letter, sent last year, that ideology on gender promoted by trans activists has become embedded in the Civil Service in a “significant breach of impartiality”.

It says the concept that “everyone has a gender identity which is more important than their sex” is “treated as undisputed fact”.

Approach to gender ‘not impartial’

Ms Frances told The Telegraph: “I asked [the Cabinet Secretary] in that letter to take urgent action to ensure civil service impartiality is upheld and freedom of belief is respected.

“I coordinated it because I had lost confidence in DCMS processes and felt I had nowhere else to turn. Two and a half months later, the response was telling me to use the departmental processes that had already failed me.”

Ms Frances said she believes the civil service’s approach to sex and gender issues is “not impartial”, adding: “Government departments officially adopted internal policies which took one side of a major political controversy, and which compelled civil servants to do the same. In doing so, they compromised the privacy, dignity and safety of female staff.”

Another instance of the lack of impartiality demonstrated by her colleagues was following the death of the late Queen last September, she claims.

Ms Frances said: “Following the death of Her Majesty, a senior colleague put a post in a team WhatsApp group. She said ‘Having to make that woman pm would be enough to send anyone over the edge tbh’.

“That woman was Liz Truss, the then prime minister. I challenged the comment and complained that it breached civil service impartiality. In response, my manager reprimanded me. The same colleague was promoted the following week to be a senior civil servant and my new line manager.”

Ms Frances told The Telegraph that she raised concerns internally that her department was taking a “politicised and discriminatory” approach to EDI.

‘I was stripped of my team and responsibilities’

She said: “Whilst investigations into my concerns were ongoing, I was stripped of my team and responsibilities by individuals who are named in my complaint. I was given unsubstantiated and derogatory feedback including in relation to my approach to EDI.

“Every time I raised a concern, I was told to follow a process, but the process took months and did nothing. I sought help from senior civil servant leadership but they didn’t protect me. When the investigation resulted in more action and I was forced out of my role, I had no choice but to resign citing constructive dismissal.”

Ms Frances is being represented by the Free Speech Union (FSU) at her employment tribunal. A preliminary hearing took place last month with further hearings expected for later this year.

Jill Levene, legal counsel at the FSU, said: “Impartiality is the cornerstone of a well functioning civil service. Eleanor’s treatment is a clear example of a civil service that has been captured by radical progressive ideology.”