Tributes paid to community council chair who claimed she was ‘bullied out of police job

Tuesday October 10th 2023

Jan Irvine

Jan Irvine who has died suddenly at the age of 70.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Tributes have been paid to a leading community campaigner who has died suddenly at the age of 70. Jan Irvine was well known for her work as a former chair of Bonnyrigg and District Community Council and with East and Midlothian Women’s Aid.

The former traffic warden with Lothian and Borders Police was a transgender woman who took her bosses to tribunal twice over claims she was forced out of her post by transphobia. Following her fight she praised her local community for the way they protected her and supported her.

Midlothian Provost Debbi McCall led tributes to Jan at a meeting of the full council today.

She told the meeting: “Jan was a force for good and a real woman of her time.”

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson also paid tribute saying: “It was very sad to hear that Jan Irvine has passed away.

“She was well known in the local area and worked hard for community.

“She was down to earth, approachable and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”

Jan hit the headlines in 2012 when she vowed to continue fighting police over alleged bullying. She transitioned after undergoing counselling and hormone treatment in 2003. She took the historic Lothian and Borders force to two separate employment tribunals claiming she was “forced” out of her job after alleged bullying incidents over her transition.

The first hearing, on the grounds of sex discrimination, was time-barred as some of her claims went too far back. The second was heard in 2011 on the grounds of bullying and harassment but was not successful.

At the time, she said: “I resigned because I felt forced out. I tried to go back but they wouldn’t let me.

“I was told verbally that I had lost, it was a unanimous decision from the judge and two lay members. But I want to sit down and look at it and see if there is anything in there that I can appeal.

“I’m fighting for justice. I just want them to acknowledge what they did wrong.

In 2012, Jan said she was offered £1000 from the force after the first tribunal to “settle” the issue which she declined.

She said: “I’ve had a lot of support from the public. I’ve never had any problems walking down the street.

“I’m originally from Loanhead just down the road, so I’m quite local and everyone knows me. People round here are very protective of me.”

Tributes were also paid to former Gorebridge Community Council chair Archie Pacey MBE who died in August at the age of 92, and was the last headteacher of Greenhall High School.

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