Census chiefs launch survey month early sparking fury among feminists
Census chiefs launch survey a month early – sparking fury among feminists who brand it a ‘dirty trick’ to block legal challenge accusing civil servants of ‘caving in to trans lobby over census sex question’
Census chiefs have quietly launched the ten-yearly survey a month early, sparking fury among feminists who have branded it a ‘dirty trick’ to block their High Court case.
The £900 million survey is due to be held nationwide on March 21 but the Office for National Statistics decided it should ‘go live’ online last Monday – 27 days early.
Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that campaign group Fair Play For Women had launched a legal challenge after accusing the ONS of caving in to last-minute pressure from transgender activists.
The £900 million survey is due to be held nationwide on March 21 but the Office for National Statistics decided it should ‘go live’ online last Monday – 27 days early. Picture: Stock
The ONS now claims it is too late to bring the legal case after it uploaded the Census online last week.
It came three days after the women’s group notified civil servants that it was seeking a judicial review over changes to guidance allowing people to state the sex that appears on legal documents, such as a passport.
Campaigners argue that a person’s sex on legal documents can be easily changed with a note from a doctor and they want people to be compelled to put down the sex on their birth certificate.
The ONS last night insisted it had always planned to do a soft launch on February 22 and rejected claims it was connected to the High Court case.
In a letter to Fair Play For Women’s solicitors last Wednesday, Government lawyers said the legal action could not be brought because ‘all ONS systems to complete the Census are now live (as from 3pm on 22 February) and people can now complete the return and submit their returns, or complete in whole or in part and save their responses with a view to later submission’.
Neither the ONS nor the Census website and its social-media accounts alert the public that they can complete the form early.
TV and newspaper adverts, social-media clips and posted leaflets all state: ‘Census Day is 21 March.’
Dr Nicola Williams, of Fair Play For Women, said: ‘When we got the letter we were absolutely stunned.
Campaign group Fair Play For Women has launched a High Court (pictured) challenge against the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for letting respondents to the Census choose the sex that appears on legal documents such as their passport
‘They did not indicate to anyone publicly that they were going to do this. It is a preposterous dirty trick just to stop us from taking them to court. It is outrageous what the ONS is doing.’
Dr Williams, whose group has raised more than £60,000 to fight the case, revealed she had instructed Jason Coppel QC to seek a High Court order next week to get the guidance removed.
An ONS spokesman said: ‘It has always been the ONS’s clearly stated intention to begin data collection well before Census Day.
‘This is to maximise response, manage the online demand and limit the number of field staff having to follow up with households who had not completed after Census Day.’
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