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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
08 May 2023
Joanna Cherry threatens legal action over cancelled Fringe show

The comedy club called off the event with SNP MP Joanna Cherry after staff refused to provide service to her | Alamy

Joanna Cherry threatens legal action over cancelled Fringe show

Joanna Cherry has threatened to take legal action against The Stand Comedy Club unless it reinstates an Edinburgh Fringe event and apologises for cancelling it.  

The comedy club has been informed that the SNP MP is seeking damages for an “unlawful and discriminatory” decision to rescind the booking of ‘In Conversation with Joanna Cherry’.  

Cherry, who opposes the self-identification system proposed under the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, accepted an invitation from The Stand in January but it was cancelled after the venue cited staff, including venue management and box office personnel, had expressed that they were “unwilling” to work at the event. 

The MP for Edinburgh South West has said she is “prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right not to be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against” and added that her “primary goal” is to “have the actions of the Stand acknowledged as unlawful and to ensure the event proceeds”. 

Cherry’s solicitor, David McKie wrote to Mike Jones, managing director of The Stand: “Our client did not start this or indeed do anything to instigate your change of position.  

“She was invited by you to speak at an event, agreed and has now been prevented from so doing as a result of an unlawful act on your part.  

“It has become a very public issue and has caused her considerable distress and wholly unjustified damage to her reputation which she has had to defend immediately and unexpectedly by your actions. Your statement of 1 May is defamatory of our client, as it clearly suggests that our client represents some form of danger or at least threat to people’s safety should the event proceed, as well as the clear implication that it would not be legally compliant.  

“Our client respects the views of others and believes in freedom of thought and expression. She has no objection to those who disagree with her but does object to being treated unlawfully simply because some people may happen to disagree with her views (or perceive so based on what they may have read about her).” 

Cherry said: “In the last few days, I have been greatly heartened by the support I have received. Many well-informed people have made it clear that they consider the decision of The Stand to be both unacceptable and discriminatory. Despite those views, and my stated desire that the Stand ‘see sense’, there has been no reversal of the decision.” 

She added: “The actions of the Stand and all that has followed thereon are symptomatic of a wider problem in our society. 

“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.” 

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