Investigation into human rights watchdog chair over behaviour claims closed

An investigation into the chair of the human rights watchdog over claims about her conduct at work has closed.

In May, Channel 4 News revealed Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) chair Baroness Kishwer Falkner was being investigated after allegations about her behaviour were made by a member of staff.

This was an internal investigation.

Claims about alleged bullying and harassment, a toxic workplace culture and internal concerns about its independence and impartiality were also made, the broadcaster reported.

Cabinet Meeting
Women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch (Victoria Jones/PA)

The revelations proved controversial, with supporters saying she was being targeted by pro-trans rights activists inside the commission.

In July, Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, commissioned an independent legal expert to review the handling of complaints against Baroness Falkner.

As a result of the review’s conclusion, the EHRC announced on Tuesday that the internal investigation into Baroness Falkner has closed.

“In the light of the conclusions and guidance shared with the Interim Deputy Chair and Board as a result of the review, the Interim Deputy Chair, supported by the Board, has decided that the investigation into the Chairwoman should now close,” the EHRC said.

“The Board will work through any outstanding issues with all parties in confidence.

“The Board will also be conducting a full review of the process failures which occurred as well as a review of its own rules and governance to implement any necessary changes.”

An EHRC spokesperson declined to comment on any findings of the internal investigation into the chairwoman.

Baroness Falkner said: “I am grateful to see an end to this investigation into unsubstantiated claims against me.

“I am also particularly grateful for the support and encouragement I have received, since the investigation into allegations against me was first disclosed. I have relished public service all my life and continue to do so with vigour and determination.

“The EHRC – our Board, committees, executive team and staff – are united in our focus on protecting and promoting equality and everyone’s human rights.

“Now that these matters are reaching a conclusion, I hope we will be given the time and space needed to reset and renew our efforts to deliver for the British people.”

She added that the commission will “learn lessons” from the events and “commit” to making “all necessary improvements”, as she insisted she remains “completely focused”.

A source close to Kemi Badenoch said: “Kishwer Falkner has been a courageous Chair of the EHRC who has dealt deftly with many contentious issues. Kemi has always been clear that good public servants should not be hounded out of office and she is pleased this process has now concluded.”