Rape Crisis Scotland has commissioned an independent review of practices and procedures at the Rape Crisis Centre in Edinburgh after a damning employment tribunal found that a counsellor was unfairly dismissed because of her gender-critical beliefs.

Roz Adams ultimately lost her job for saying that service users should be able to know the sex of the staff they were seeing.

The tribunal agreed with her lawyer's claim that the centre's management had conducted a “heresy hunt” against the support worker. 


READ MORE: Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre found guilty of unfair dismissal

In a statement, Rape Crisis Scotland - which sets service standards for member centres - said they had been "concerned by some of the evidence arising from the tribunal suggesting that some practices at Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) may have fallen short of these standards."

They added: “An independent review into the practices and procedures at Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre has been commissioned.

“We want to reassure survivors that their needs will be listened to and respected when they come to a Rape Crisis Centre for support, or for advocacy services."

They said it was important that survivors "can make informed choices about the services they can access at Rape Crisis Centres" and that it was "important for some survivors to have a choice over the sex or gender of their worker."

“We will be working with rape crisis centres across Scotland to consider the judgment and anything further we need to do to ensure survivors are able to access the services they need after being raped or sexually abused.”

The verdict from employment Judge McFatridge was scathing. He described some of the evidence submitted by key members of ERCC as “entirely unsatisfactory."

He said Ms Adams had been subject to a disciplinary process “reminiscent of the work of Franz Kafka”.

Shortly before she joined Edinburgh Rape Crisis, she met with the then Chief Operating Officer, Maggie Chapman.

The two women went for a walk where she was she heard what she described in the Tribunal as the “mantra” that “trans women are women”.

Ms Adams told the tribunal she was “concerned that there was no real definition or clarification associated with this statement" from Ms Chapman who left the ERCC the next year following her election as a Green list MSP.

Once she started work she felt it became more and more apparent that there were issues regarding the way that gender issues were dealt with in the organisation.

She felt there were obvious places where the organisation needed to talk about it but felt that support workers were not permitted to talk about it and described the issue as being “eggshelly”.

People who wrote to the organisation raising concerns were “classed as bigots” and their emails were stored in a folder called “Hate emails.”

Two months after Ms Adams started, Mridul Wadhwa, a trans woman was appointed as CEO.

She told the tribunal she was “initially happy” with the appointment. They heard that “she had no issue with trans people using the service or working in the service” and “felt that was a good thing.”

However, given that 98 to 99% of sexual violence was perpetrated by men, she “believed that all victims of sexual violence would almost certainly wish to speak to a female person.”

She said that the centre’s view that there is no difference between a man and a trans man or between a woman and a trans woman or a non binary person was “simply incorrect and not possible.”

She told the tribunal of a woman in her 60s who approached the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre asking to take part in group work.

She had kept secret for 40 years the fact that she had been sexually assaulted and wanted to meet other survivors as part of her recovery.

When this woman asked the centre for reassurance that any group discussion would be women only, she was advised that ERCC were trans-inclusive.

When she made clear that she was unhappy that she may be seeing someone who was not biologically female she was advised that she “was not suitable for their service and was excluded.”

When a service user who had been assigned a non-binary counsellor with a male-sounding name emailed requesting to know whether their support worker was a man or a woman, Ms Adams asked her manager for clear instructions on how to respond.

She suggested a form of words, reading: "Thanks for asking. [The counsellor] is a woman at birth who now identifies as non-binary."

That ultimately sparked a “completely spurious and mishandled” disciplinary process which culminated in Ms Adams being constructively dismissed.

The Tribunal said they agreed with Ms Adam’s lawyer’s description that what followed was a “heresy hunt.”

They concluded that Ms Wadha had an agenda to “cleanse the organisation of those who did not follow her beliefs.”

READ MORE: Rape Crisis tribunal victory shows women must not be gagged on gender

In a statement released on Sunday night, Ms Adams said: “This is a victory for all people who have been subjected to sexual violence who need a choice of worker, and group support on the basis of sex in order to feel safe.”

She said she hoped “Scottish Government, OSCR, Rape Crisis Scotland and all those in the sector feel emboldened by this judgment to safeguard this important choice for survivors, as part of ensuring services are welcoming to all who need them.”

The ERCC’s board of directors said they were “saddened” by the outcome of the tribunal and will now take time to reflect on the written judgement.

They said: “We strive to provide a safe accessible and inclusive service and are committed to improving continuously.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government cannot comment on individual Employment Tribunal decisions.

"The Scottish Government continues to fund Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) to support survivors of rape and sexual assault as we do for rape crisis centres across the country.

"We welcome that a review of ERCC practices and procedures is to take place."