Labour blow as all-women lists outlawed

Party found guilty of discrimination

JOHN RENTOUL,

STEPHEN WARD

and DONALD MACINTYRE

The Labour Party suffered the acute embarrassment yesterday of having its policy of selecting some Parliamentary candidates from women-only shortlists branded as unlawful sex discrimination.

The surprise decision is a serious blow for the party, which introduced the policy in 1993 to boost women's representation in Parliament. But while senior Tories were jubilant yesterday over the rebuff for Labour, it could also have a dramatic effect on the Conservative Party, which may now have to treat its selection processes as being covered by the Sex Discrimination Act.

The unanimous declaration by Leeds Industrial Tribunal forced Labour to suspend all 14 outstanding all-women selections, but a party spokeswoman insisted the position of the 34 women candidates already chosen from all- women short lists would not be affected.

The decision was held as a "historic judgment" by a "delighted" Peter Jepson, the part-time law lecturer and would-be candidate for two London constituencies who brought the case with Roger Dyas-Elliott, who was rejected as a candidate for Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Mr Jepson said: "The Labour Party has got to rewrite its selection procedures."

Shocked senior party sources last night strongly indicated that an appeal was certain after the tribunal issues its written judgment on 25 January. Mr Jepson said the tribunal's decision was so emphatic that an appeal would be "lunacy", and called on Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) to consider re-opening the 34 completed selections as "a matter of utmost urgency".

But Nicola Kuterpan, a leader of the anti-quota Campaign for Real Equality in the party - while welcoming the ruling - said it would be wrong to expect the party to "tear itself apart" by reopening the already completed selections. Instead, it should abandon attempts to force them through in another 14 seats. These include nine where the process has already started and another five - in as yet unidentified seats - where all-women shortlists are also due to prevail.

Rejecting the "ingenious but fallacious" arguments of James Goudie QC, for the Labour Party, the tribunal chairman John Prophet said the policy was a clear case of sex discrimination under the 1975 Act. He said many people would regard the party's aim of increasing women's representation as a "laudable motive, but that has no relevance to the issue".

Mr Jepson found all his arguments accepted by the tribunal. Although being an MP was not "employment" in the usual sense, the tribunal ruled that it fell within the scope of the Act particularly in the light of the European Equal Treatment Directive of 1976 which outlaws sex discrimination in "access to all jobs or posts, whatever the sector or branch of activity".

Mr Jepson and Mr Dyas- Elliott did not seek compensation or ask for the choice of candidates in their cases to be re-opened. Mr Dyas-Elliott said: "I am quite prepared to allow the Keighley result to stand. I have no prejudice at all against Anne Cryer."

Mrs Cryer was chosen as the Labour candidate from an all-woman shortlist.

Mr Jepson claimed that if the NEC ignored the ruling - which technically only applies to the constituencies he and Mr Dyas-Elliott sought - it would be "contempt of court".

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, described the policy last summer as "not ideal at all", and said that it would not continue after the next election. He later acknowledged to the executive that it was up to them to decide whether to continue the policy.

The ruling casts doubt over the legality of the Tory selection process suggesting the party may be practising indirect sex discrimination against women.

The women who won, page 2

Leading article, page 14

Suggested Topics
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Campaign Manager, Stevenage

£34000 - £36000 per annum: Charter Selection: This market leading organisation...

Senior Insight Analyst - SAS

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior Analyst Vacancy - Urgent Requriem...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform