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Attorney General orders scrapping of diversity training at Government Legal Department

Attorney General Suella Braverman has told officials to scrap diversity training in the Government Legal Department (GLD).

In a column in the Daily Mail headlined “Diversity zealots have created a dangerous new religion - we must get serious about taking them on”, Braverman attacked what she called the new ‘Diversity, Equality and Inclusion’ (DEI) sector, which she claimed to have arisen “as a by-product of the rights culture created by a combination of New Labour’s Human Rights Act and the Equality Act”.

She also cited the recent case of M Forstater v CGD Europe and others (England and Wales : Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2022] UKET 2200909/2019.

Braverman had ordered her officials to brief her on the diversity training undertaken in the Government Legal Department (GLD).

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She said: “I was horrified to discover that hundreds of government lawyers spent nearly 2,000 hours of their taxpayer-funded time last year attending lectures on ‘micro-incivilities’, different ‘lived experiences’ and ‘how to be a straight ally’, courtesy of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall.”

Braverman claimed: “The experts on ‘white privilege’ who shared their insights were cited as authoritative but they all subscribed to the Left-wing view on race, gender and sexuality which permeated their training materials.”

She said: “Government lawyers are told that if a black person says that something is offensive, then it is offensive and they don’t have a right to question it. How does that fit with the rule of law or due process?

“This kind of thinking is harmful in other departments, but in legal cases it’s downright dangerous. It does nothing to create solidarity and encourage support but rather keeps emphasising difference, creates a sense of ‘otherness’ and pits different groups against each other.”

The minister insisted she was “all for building an inclusive workplace which is meritocratic and welcoming, but to focus relentlessly on dividing us into different cohorts rather than on building camaraderie based on unifying values is misguided”.

Earlier this week the Attorney General denied that government lawyers had been banned from telling ministers that policies were unlawful, but revealed she had introduced guidance calling on them to adopt a “private-sector approach” to client service.

She said the new Legal Risk Guidance involved “moving away from the ‘computer says no’ approach” and would tell GLD lawyers how to support ministers better, adopt a solutions-based approach and use innovative legal thinking.

Sir Jonathan Jones QC, former head of the GLD, tweeted (4 August): “’Top private-sector law firms’ put lots of time & effort into diversity training and other such initiatives.”

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