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Council headquarters at Muriel Matter House. Ruby Cox was a borough councillor until May.

Cox comments on transphobia claims

Serious allegations of transphobia were levelled last year against then Cllr Ruby Cox by Cllr Claire Carr, who was recently found to have breached the council’s Code of Conduct in the matter. Cox, now no longer a councillor, here responds to those allegations and explains why she did not speak out at the time.

My name is Ruby Cox, and until very recently I was a ward councillor for Central St Leonards, as many of you will know.  Of course I am hugely disappointed to have lost my seat because it has deprived me of the one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling roles I have had in my entire life and I very much valued my relationship with the people in the ward. I know I was good councillor, and that I helped many people during my four year term, but politics is politics and I am certainly not challenging the result of the vote.

Ruby Cox.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and I am now free to look back over the past year and answer some of the many questions that have been asked of me, concerning allegations of transphobia made about me by Claire Carr.

I did not answer them at the time because I was assured by our Labour Group that Council and Party processes and procedures would deal with them, and if I started to respond to each one individually, it would only muddy the water.  Out of loyalty to my colleagues and trust in council disciplinary processes, I complied and said not one word in my own defence.

However, one year on, here we are, nothing has been said publicly and although I’m sure there are those who will see this as sour grapes, I believe people have a right to know the full story, so that they can make their minds up about who they believe. More crucially, they can decide for themselves whether a councillor who has flouted Hastings Borough Council’s Code of Conduct and been brought before the Standards Committee, yet not shown a shred of remorse for their actions, is fit to continue in post.

After her election as a Labour councillor in May 2021, it seemed to me that Cllr Carr took it upon herself to demonise me and cast me as some sort of transphobic monster, with the apparent aim of driving me from office both as a councillor and as Deputy Mayor. She and her supporters initiated a campaign of public denouncement, via social media and all the local papers, which impacted on my mental health, my ability to do my job, my self-confidence, my relationship with other councillors and my sense of safety and security, even in my own home.

The HBC Equalities Lead asked Carr go through the proper channels and substantiate her claims, but she did not. In spite of alleging the most disgusting actions on my behalf, neither she nor her allies have to this day felt able to make a formal complaint, possibly because the only “evidence” they have been able to come up with is a link seen on my Facebook page some years ago, to guidance on the 2018 government consultation, calling for public comment on reform to the gender recognition act, evidence so insubstantial that if submitted as a complaint, it would surely be dismissed straight away.

Cllr Claire Carr (photo: Hastings Green Party).

The culmination of her campaign, as many will know, was at Pride last year when she made her denouncement of me from the main stage. I feared this was designed to generate hatred towards me and to give this excited crowd a focus for their anger. My anxiety was such that I felt obliged to leave town for the day. Fortunately I’m still here to write this now, but it could have ended in a very ugly way indeed.

At this stage I and several others decided I had endured enough, and made formal complaints to HBC. Most were submitted in September, mine in October (I didn’t submit anything at first because I was told that if I tried to defend myself it would only delay the process). After months of delay, a Standards Committee hearing was finally convened in February 2022, at which the complaints were heard. A cross-party committee, together with two independent persons, found that Claire Carr had indeed breached three clauses from the HBC Code of Conduct,

Section 3 – (1): You must treat others with respect.
Section 3 – (2)( (b) You must not bully any person.
Section 6 – (a) You must not use your position as a councillor or co-opted member improperly to confer on or secure for yourself or any other person, an advantage or disadvantage.

In contrast to the very public denunciations that I had endured, the results were not communicated to the public. A clear public statement would have shown that HBC expects the highest standard of behaviour from all its councillors, and takes action against any who are found to be lacking. Instead, the council redacted the results and buried what they did publish on the HBC website where no-one would even know they existed unless they were following the case. Why, I will never know.

What I do believe is that the real trigger for the campaign against me had little to do with social media posts that, if you tried really hard, you might manage to take exception to. It was actually my “refusing” to sign up to the mantra Trans Women Are Women, Trans Men are Men. Was this the price of her vote for me as Deputy Mayor? When asked, I replied that I felt it was a complex and sensitive issue that required considered and respectful discussion so that the rights of both trans people and women were protected, as required by the Equality Act 2010, and that was it. Apparently, that was enough to release my personal Armageddon.

It would seem to me that whatever her talents as a councillor, Claire Carr has been spectacularly successful with particular regard to Section 6 in the Standards Committee adjudication (above), ie damaging the reputation of another councillor.  The minutes of the hearing state that:

“The Standards Committee concluded from the evidence provided that the actions and statements made by Councillor X (whilst acting in the capacity of a Councillor) was intended to confer a disadvantage on Councillor Y in relation to Councillor Y’s standing and respect in the community.”

I’ll leave it to you to work out who is Councillor X and Councillor Y.

I’m sure there are those who will just shrug this off and say, well everyone breaks the rules from time to time. But what we are talking about here is the abuse of public office, positions to which people are elected on the basis of their good character, their honesty, their integrity and their desire to hold office not for personal gain, but for public good.

And if you think that one councillor making baseless allegations against another is of little consequence, and should just be ignored, you have never been there when votes are being counted, knowing that every single word your constituents have heard about you during your campaign has had the potential to change where they might put their X.

Anyway, the elections are over, and we are where we are, as the saying goes. Looking ahead, I hope any future victims of bullying by councillors get more support than I did.  It is a vile activity and should always be condemned, no matter what strongly held views are involved. There are better ways to resolve differences of opinion than wrecking the life and work of another human being.

 

See also Kay Green’s blog on the issue.

 

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Posted 12:24 Wednesday, Jun 8, 2022 In: Point of View

9 Comments

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  1. Sam Jones

    In February 2022 Hastings Borough Council’s scrutiny committee was made up of four elderly white heterosexual men. Three Labour & one Conservative – Alan Roberts, Nigel Sinden, Trevor Webb & Mike Edwards. Judging two female councillors & a dispute about transgender – One of them having left Labour a few months before for the Green party. With Labour councillors on high alert as there was an election on near horizon. That doesn’t bring to mind balanced fair scrutiny. Does feminist Ruby Cox have no concern about this case being judged by a privileged white patriarchy ? Perhaps not on this occasion?

    Comment by Sam Jones — Sunday, Jun 26, 2022 @ 10:12

  2. Katy C

    Whatever ones views, and I think we should all be able to express our views without fear of being demonised or denounced from a stage, Cllr Carr was found to have bullied Ruby Cox. Surely we can agree that bullying is wrong. We seem to have a lot of ‘be kind’ messaging out there at the moment with very little understanding of how to put that into practice. It cannot be right that anybody uses their elected platform to confer an advantage on themselves, cast others in a bad light or bully another person. It is part of the council’s standards for elected members, and rightly so. I don’t like bullying by anyone for any reason. Is that a controversial position?

    Comment by Katy C — Friday, Jun 17, 2022 @ 09:47

  3. Mr.C. KINGSLAND

    https://apple.news/A4Vi42m3dQxWdaU8D7vnlww
    To anyone reading this who is in any doubt whatsoever what Cox and her imbecilic local colleagues in the Labour Party has created, read this Metro article.
    Thanks – on behalf of the LGBTQ community

    Comment by Mr.C. KINGSLAND — Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 @ 15:49

  4. CHRIS KINGSLAND

    So here we are, 5 years by my reckoning, since Hastings Labour CLP decided to embark upon their journey to utter self destruction. I have observed over the years (as someone who has worked with/managed many different groups of people in my professional life) that rotting an organisation up, is never a solitary pursuit, but one that requires either the tacit support, of others, or simply that the perpetrators are left, unchallenged to do their worst, to infect and to marginalise.
    Cox’s demise is one of the latter cases. It beggars belief how a Labour grouping, well into the 21st century, can manage to tie itself into such magnificently embarrassing knots over issues such as Israel and the LGBTQ community. To miss so entirely the point of their roles as town councillors, as representatives of their political masters in Westminster, as representatives of their town. It beggars belief, the hubris, the arrogance, and the stupidity of not seeing the issue for what it is – ie laws already in place( by a LABOUR govt!!) for folks who find themselves in the trans/non binary space( as they have for centuries) looking at an update on how they are legally considered, in order to equalise both with our western neighbours, prevailing cultural change, and with further equality for minorities in our society. Not really anything that we haven’t managed before is it?
    I have always found it rather laughable (regarding these small time bigots) that any challenge to their views is instantly painted as aggressive, unwarranted, and unorthodox. How ironic!
    LGBTQ people have spent a good deal of their lives( certainly of my generation) fighting for our equality, just as the British Labour movement has tried to do for us since WWI.
    When will the traditional left realise that Britain has moved on, moved on from political naval gazing, from unhelpful musings on foreign affairs, and certainly from allowing these parochial Napoleon figures in a small town, rotting the very movement that they sought to patronise.

    Comment by CHRIS KINGSLAND — Sunday, Jun 12, 2022 @ 12:59

  5. Anthony

    Ruby Cox’s ‘guidance’ she posted on Facebook, was a guide by a group on how to fill out the gender recognition act consultation to prevent further rights for LGBTQ+ persons. Not an innocent link to any official government guidance on the consultation of which there were several. Ruby Cox was told this but did not reply and left up her link to a group who wish to prevent the further equalisation of human rights for LGBTQ+ persons.

    Comment by Anthony — Sunday, Jun 12, 2022 @ 11:58

  6. DAR

    Oh dear…And HBC’s Labour councillors are soooo compassionate, aren’t they? I think it’s time that people who disagree with aggressive trans people were not demonised – certainly not in public arenas. Bad luck, Ruby Cox (whether you agree or disagree with the “self-identification” trans lobby).

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Jun 9, 2022 @ 17:54

  7. Keith Piggott

    Quote, “I know I was a good councillor” unquote. Would a “good councillor”, chairing the planning committee on 10th November 2021, willfully have ignored and blocked our local residents’ Petition founded on Heritage violations, improper application, and broken agreements, i.e. legal estoppels? Would the “good councillor” then repeatedly interrupt the petitioners’ spokesperson to divert those issues to an irrelevant Trojan Horse issue (a cellar floor) to ensure Members held ignorant of Petition voted in favour of the unlawful application as the planning officers had recommended – who blocked all evidence submitted in the Petition? And would that same “good councillor” subsequently then have ignored lead petitioner’s several requests for explanation of that egregious conduct? Self-professed “good councillors” loose seats because their constituents take objective views of their performance.

    Comment by Keith Piggott — Thursday, Jun 9, 2022 @ 10:35

  8. Louise

    I stand with and fully support Ruby Cox on this. Ms Carr acted utterly irresponsibly, recklessly, and in a manner that should never be seen by an elected official.
    I hope that voters will come to see that Ms Carr is, I believe, only acting in her own self-interest of raising her profile, spear-heading a dangerous witch-hunt, and not doing anything productive for Hastings & St Leonards residents. She brings shame upon the party she notionally represents and on the council.
    I hope Ruby Cox continues to speak out.

    Comment by Louise — Thursday, Jun 9, 2022 @ 08:55

  9. J B KNIGHT

    Don’t take to heart that the Central St Leonards lost seat was a vote against you,
    It was a vote against Labour that needs a kick in the pants. Trying to be Everything to Everyone, and ending up as nothing and nobody. and getting everyone’s backs up. Campaign was abysmal too, Flyers saying votes for Greens was a vote for Tories, they tried that tactic before, just puts people off.

    Labour is a Loss to Itself. Its only when you come out you realise what c**p you’ve been putting up with, bit like leaving a cult. “Stay with the Family, Don’t Betray the Family”

    Once you clear your head, you’ll be OK.

    Comment by J B KNIGHT — Thursday, Jun 9, 2022 @ 01:08

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