JOANNA Cherry has started legal action against the Stand Comedy Club and threatened to take it to court unless it reinstates her Edinburgh Fringe show and apologises for cancelling it. 

The SNP MP  released a lawyer’s letter sent to the venue alongside a 51-page opinion by Aidan O’Neill KC arguing the club had no legal basis for its actions.

The Stand is ultimately owned by another SNP MP, Tommy Sheppard.

Ms Cherry, KC, said she was acting to defend her reputation, but also to give courage to others wishing to express their views, including on gender.

“I am prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right not to be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against," she said, adding any damages she might win would go to charity.

Ms Cherry had been due to speak at an In Conversation event on August 10, but it was scrapped because key venue personnel were “unwilling to work on this event”.

Ms Cherry says it is because of her belief that sex is immutable and views on gender.

The Edinburgh South West MP,  who vehemently denies being transphobic, has been supported by author JK Rowling, who called her treatment “modern McCarthyism”. 

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he hopes the row could be resolved by compromise, but other SNP politicians have been less supportive.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf backs Joanna Cherry in row over cancelled Fringe show

In his letter to the Stand, Ms Cherry’s solicitor, David McKie of Glasgow-based Levy & McRae, said “the clear and unequivocal opinion” of the firm and of senior counsel was that the Stand’s decision was “unlawful and discriminatory” and indefensible in law.

He had advised Ms Cherry of her “right to seek damages and legal costs on top of the non-pecuniary remedies”, as well as her rights to “an action for defamation”.

He said his client did not wish to litigate, but would ”not hesitate to do so to vindicate not only her own rights, but the vital rights of individuals to hold and express legitimate philosophical views and not to be discriminated against for so doing”. 

He said a “prompt and amicable resolution” would be for the Stand to agree it “acted unlawfully by discriminating against our client”, apologise and restore the event.

“If you agree to these reasonable requests, our client is willing to waive any claim for damages (including for defamation) or legal costs.

“If you are not prepared to agree to the above, our client’s intention is to pursue all legal remedies open to her in court.”

Mr McKie said an action would be raised in Edinburgh Sheriff Court if the Stand did not respond within seven days.  

Ms Cherry last week said she was being “cancelled and no-platformed” because she was “a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views that somebody's sex is immutable.

She said small groups of activists were “now dictating who can speak and what can be discussed”, showing “something's gone very wrong in Scotland's civic space”.

In a statement today, she said the Stand’s actions were “symptomatic of a wider problem in our society” and the cancelling of her show was “the thin end of the wedge”. 

She said: “I am very concerned that those who hold perfectly legitimate views on a variety of issues, including women like me are regularly being misrepresented, de-platformed and, in some cases, facing damage to or the loss of our livelihoods.

"This is often accompanied by online abuse and threats. 

“The debate on gender self-identification is a very important one which must be allowed to take place, but I am a woman of many parts who was engaged to talk about my political life in general and I see the cancelling of my one-hour event as the thin end of the wedge.

“My primary goal is to have the actions of the Stand acknowledged as unlawful and to ensure the event proceeds. I have asked The Stand to apologise to me too. If they don’t agree with my reasonable requests, I intend to ask the court to decide on the issue.

"I hope that my actions in defending myself will give courage to everyone particularly women who wish to express views on legitimate issues of public interest. 

“That, after all, is the very job of a politician and one of the reasons I entered politics in the first place.”

READ MORE: The Stand was wrong to cancel MP

In his opinion, Mr O’Neill said the Stand’s attempt to spare its staff discomfort was not a defence in law for discriminating against Ms Cherry because of her legally protected beliefs.

He said the law did not guarantee ”any right not to be confronted” with challenging opinions.

On the contrary, freedom of expression applied not only to favourable or inoffensive ideas, but also those “that shock, offend or disturb the State or any sector of the population”. 

He said: “There is perhaps a current social (i.e. not legal) trend to consider that one should be protected from the expressions of others which cause one to feel uncomfortable or offended.

"It has led to the phenomenon commonly referred to as 'cancel culture' where one side of an argument is simply silenced by the other. 

“Such a trend is anathema to the freedoms that are protected in this country by the law. 

“It is also anathema to healthy public debate. It has no basis in law, and it has no place in a modern democratic society.

“Freedom of expression is not restricted to matters that are uncontroversial or inoffensive.

"There is no protected right on the part of any individual not to be offended.  

“There will always be, in a pluralist society, strongly held beliefs that cannot be reconciled with one another. That does not mean that one or the other of those views should be prevented from being expressed.”

The Stand has been asked for a response.