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Former Green Councillor in Party Target Seat Threatens Legal Action Against Co-Leader Over Expulsion Amid Trans Rights Row

Then-councillor Jude English was suspended by the Greens shortly before the May elections, over transphobia allegations (she denies wrongdoing)

Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay are both liekly to be named in any legal battle. Photo: PA Images / Alamy

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A prominent Green Party activist and former councillor in Green co-leader Carla Denyer’s target seat has been expelled by the party, after appearing to back an independent candidate who was suspended over alleged transphobia. And she is now threatening to take the Green co-leader and candidate to court. 

Jude English, who represented Ashley ward inside the Bristol Central seat since 2016, was suspended from the party on March 6th this year, after a complaint branded the ‘gender critical’ activist an “urgent and significant risk of bringing the Party into disrepute”. Several polls tip Green co-leader Carla Denyer in position to take the seat from Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire on July 4th.

Jude English’s suspension followed an appearance at a Green Women’s Declaration (GWD) webinar on the party’s approach to trans and sex-based rights. She missed out on being re-elected in May, as selections ran during her suspension. 

Jude English has now been expelled from the Greens after appearing to back independent Sheffield Central candidate Alison Teal, who claims children are being taught “gender ideology” in schools

Transphobia Allegations

The complaint alleged that Green Women’s Declaration is a “transphobic organisation”, and argued that English “used her position in Bristol’s Green Councillor group to water down a July 2022 motion to Council on trans rights”. English claims there is no whipping of Green Party councillors and she chose to abstain on a trans rights motion. 

The complaint also dubbed GWD’s backing for “sex-based rights” a “transphobic
dog whistle.” “Language about defending sex-based rights is specifically used to “argue against rights for transgender individuals,” the complainants alleged.

Other points claimed that references to protecting single-sex spaces are “used to exclude trans people from these spaces,” which “qualifies as queerphobia under GPEW’s queerphobia guidance…It is discrimination against transwomen on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression.”

GWD also refers to transwomen as “males”, which the complainants state was “knowingly using a label for a person that doesn’t describe their identity.”

The Green Party’s suspension decision in March adds: “If the Party is not seen to be taking action against the open transphobia displayed by Jude [English] then it risks a hugely damaging scandal erupting after it’s too late to take action. Bristol is a tight Labour/Green fight for control of the Council, meaning Administration could come down to a difference of one Councillor.” (The Greens subsequently became the largest party on the council for the first time in May).

“Jude’s actions risk costing votes in wards such as her own which have tight Labour/Green splits. Furthermore, any reputational damage will impact Carla Denyer’s campaign in Bristol Central,” the decision from the party’s regional council added.

The Green Party’s Responsibilities and Rights policy (RR530) states: “The Green Party recognises that trans men are men, trans women are women, and that non-binary identities exist and are valid.” 

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Thorny Topic

Several former co-chairs of Green Party Women have been suspended or expelled from the party over disagreements with how that policy is implemented. Some, for instance, want people designated male at birth to be barred from women-only prisons or refuges, including if they have had gender reassignment surgery or have a Gender Recognition Certificate. 

In November 2022, Sheffield Central Green Party candidate Alison Teal was suspended from the Green Party after tweeting an article challenging Eddie Izzard’s gender identity. She subsequently missed out on selection for this General Election, as she remained suspended. She is now running as an independent candidate and is understood to have been expelled as a result. 

The quote Teal shared stated:  “The loss of women’s rights starts with looking the other way for an Eddie Izzard and ends with a society that doesn’t flinch at placing a male sex offender in jail with women”. It came from an article from The Critic based on opposition to the trans comic using a women’s toilet, including photographs of Izzard entering a women’s bathroom.

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While Labour has largely quelled its rows over gender and sex, the issue appears to be becoming more polarised in the Green Party. In February, a court ruled in favour of former deputy leader Shahrar Ali, after he alleged he had been victimised by the party for his gender critical beliefs – including being sacked from his spokesperson role.

Jude English told Byline Times she is planning to launch legal action – naming Carla Denyer as one of the key people liable. As the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) is technically an “unincorporated organisation” (i.e. not registered as a corporate entity, charity, or co-op etc.) legally, English cannot take the party to court as a whole. Instead, she must name individuals who act as proxies for the entity. 

As leader, Carla Denyer sits on the Green Party Executive and has legal responsibilities as one of its members. “This is a threat to the organisation,” English said, adding: “I am calling Carla to court,” alongside several other prominent activists. 

As noted by the House of Commons library, a series of employment tribunal rulings since 2021 have considered whether and to what extent gender-critical beliefs count as “philosophical beliefs”. Philosophical beliefs are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. 

They have found that gender-critical beliefs – for instance that people cannot physically change their biological sex – can be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. However, “the ways in which such beliefs manifest themselves in behaviour might not be protected.”

“It depends on what those behaviours are and how they impact on the legal rights of others not to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex or gender reassignment,” the Common library notes. 

Any court case is likely to look at whether comments and behaviour by English was discriminatory or abusive towards trans people, for example individuals. 


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Electoral Threat

“The complaint against me is entirely about protecting Carla’s campaign [in Bristol Central], which I believe is disreputable. You can’t discriminate to protect someone else, even in political parties,” English said. 

She branded her “no fault” suspension after the complaint “deliberate punishment” as she lost out on re-election and therefore a councillor stipend. 

“I have been expelled for five years, and they now don’t have to investigate anything, denying me any internal justice,” she claimed. English, who is a lesbian, claims she is being victimised for her views on gender and sex, and that she is “too gay” for the party.

Several other female members of the party have been expelled in the past month for backing independent Alison Teal, Byline Times understands. English concedes that some of the expulsions are “legitimate”, but some will not stand up if taken to court. “You cannot expel someone for being gender-critical,” English said. 

Alison Teal herself was on a no-fault suspension, but her disciplinary panel took 19 months to hear her case. This reportedly came the day before nominations closed, which allies say “forced” her to make a decision.

The separate Scottish Green Party has faced similar disputes over the issue of trans rights, gender self-identification, and biological female-only spaces, with over a dozen members recently expelled.  

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Not Going Away

Jude English plans to file legal action if negotiations between her and the party are unsuccessful in the next six months. “The Greens need to be very careful. Carla [Denyer] is absolutely aware, and so is [co-leader] Adrian Ramsay. This issue is not going away. 

“If they’re elected, our new MPs need to understand that their organisation is breaking the law.” 

The Green Party of England and Wales and LGBTIQA Greens did not respond to requests for comment. However, Byline Times is keen to include their responses if we receive one.

However, the party’s Head of Governance stated in an email to the activist:  “[Green Party Regional Council] have reviewed evidence submitted to them as detailed in the attached form and found that this amounted to campaigning against a properly selected candidate [Alison Teal]. 

“This is in violation of paragraph 4.7 of the Constitution. GPRC therefore determined that your membership has been forfeited by you and they accept this forfeiture and confirm your membership is ended. They have further decided that the period of forfeiture is set at a full parliamentary term of 5 years. As such you will only be eligible to rejoin the party after 18/06/2029.”

It includes retweets of English re-tweeting supportive posts on X, allegedly backing Alison Teal’s Sheffield campaign. English argues that as she was suspended, she was not technically a member when retweeting the content. 

Any legal cases, if taken to court, are likely to cost the party hundreds of thousands of pounds. Shahrar Ali’s legal case alone is estimated to have cost the party upwards of £250,000, before the ruling in his favour earlier this year. 

A Green Party councillor in Bristol told Byline Times: “No comment.”

30th June: This piece was amended to change ‘Green Party Women’s Declaration’ to the correct name, Green Women’s Declaration. The Green Women’s Declaration is not formally part of the Green Party.

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