The new Rector of Edinburgh University has been accused of transphobia, after retweeting details of a meeting to discuss changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

The university newspaper Student and Edinburgh University Students Association condemned the message, claiming the organisations behind the event were hate groups.

Edinburgh University said Ann Henderson, who officially became rector on October 6th, was tweeting in a personal capacity, and added that it the University’s position was one of “zero tolerance towards transphobia.”

However these comments have led to a backlash from feminist campaigners and academics, disputing that Ms Henderson’s actions were transphobic and warning of “McCarthyism”.

The event Ms Henderson, a long-standing Labour and feminist campaigner retweeted was a drop in meeting in Westminster this Tuesday titled “How will changes to the Gender Recognition Act [GRA] affect women’s rights?”

It gave the time and place for the event, inviting all MPs to drop in, and urged women with concerns about the legislation to contact their MP asking them to attend.

The meeting is promoted by the organisation A Woman’s Place UK, and supported by the groups Fair Play For Women and Transgender Trend, but Edinburgh Student accused all three of being transphobic.

The Sabbatical Team at Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) said the same gropus had been responsible for distributing transphobic flyers and stickers on campus and added; ““After raising the issue of these materials and organisations with the Rector in a recent meeting, and hearing her recent speech purporting to support LGBT+ students at the university, we are shocked that the Rector continues to support these organisations on Twitter.

“The university needs to be a place where transgender students feel supported and respected, and as a representative for staff and students, the Rector’s actions are unacceptable.”

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh initially said the Rector had posted the links in a personal capacity and said it did not tolerate transphobia.

However pressed on whether Ms Henderson's tweet was viewed as transphobic, in a new statement the University said: "We have received informal complaints about Ann Henderson’s recent activity on twitter; we have also received expressions of support for her.

"We strongly believe both in the freedom of speech; and a zero tolerance policy towards transphobia. We will continue to give this current set of allegations careful consideration.”

The criticism has provoked an angry response, including from Herald columnist and former Edinburgh Rector Iain Macwhirter, who said the University should have more clearly defended its Rector against the charge of transphobia. “It should defend freedom of speech on campus and disown this smear,” he said.

Independent social work consultant Maggie Mellon said: “Thank goodness students elected a rector who believes in free speech and for women’s right to meet and discuss the impact of the eradication of hard fought for rights and protections for girls and women”, and called for honest, open and respectful discussion of the GRA.

Ms Henderson was not available to comment.