Sex Work and Human Rights

Open Letter to Rhoda Grant

Rhoda Grant responded. See update below.

The following is an open letter I have sent today to Rhoda Grant, Member of the Scottish Parliament, in response to her decision to remove all responses to the consultation process about her proposal to criminalise the clients of sex workers in Scotland. (see earlier posts)J'accuse

Ms Grant,

I am sure you are a busy person, but if you were to look back at our previous correspondence, I believe you would find that I always addressed you respectfully, even though I found your proposed bill, your public statements about the subject matter, and the handling of the consultation process by your office more than questionable.

In politics as well as in academia it is commonplace to disagree on a wide range of issues, and at times, we might disagree a little more and even find opponents to our own views annoying. That’s just human. But that you went as far as to remove all responses to your consultation without prior notice is a new low, even for you, and it strikes me with disbelieve that an elected public servant would behave in such a manner. That is, by the way, in addition to the fact that you continued to omit at least one response, that of the Philippine Sex Workers Collective, although their members took time out of their schedules to participate in your consultation.

I strongly suggest that you restore access to all responses to your consultation immediately and that you add the above mentioned response and any other responses that were omitted.

I have today requested access to all responses from the Scottish Parliament via the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and already received an acknowledgement of that request.

It is certainly your prerogative to remove your comments about your failure to receive cross-party support for your bill from your website. But to omit opponents’ responses, to publish a biased summary of responses, to paint a picture as if Amnesty International supported your bill, and now to remove all responses without prior notice – is this really the conduct that you believe is appropriate for a member of the Scottish Parliament?

I believe it is not and I will, like others, lodge an official complaint about your conduct. If publicity is what you were aiming for, you got it. I am nothing short of disgusted to witness this blatant abuse of power on your part.

I should be sorry for being so blunt but I am not. Shame on you, Ms Grant!

Matthias Lehmann
Research Project Korea
Berlin, July 11th, 2013

Update! (July 12th, 2013)

Rhoda Grant has responded to my letter. She stated that she wasn’t obliged in the first place to make the responses available online and that they were available on her website from the time they were published to the time her proposed bill failed to achieve the necessary cross-party support required to proceed. She also stated that they were published to allow for scrutiny of the proposed legislation but since the bill wasn’t proceeding, they have been removed from the site. All responses have been lodged with the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) and the Scottish Parliament as required. Other than that, Ms Grant made no comments whatsoever about the other issues raised in my letter.

3 responses

  1. I second wholeheartedly.

    July 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  2. Great that you got a response

    July 12, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    • Ms Grant pretty much always responded, even if once or twice, it might have been her staff, but whether or not they were enlightening responses is another issue.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:41 pm

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