A FORMER Tory MSP has said an Edinburgh comedy club has acted “unlawfully” after calling off an event with SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

The Stand has already released a statement claiming staff were not comfortable working at an event which would have seen the MP join part of a series of discussions with various high-profile Scots.

Professor Adam Tomkins, a law professor at Glasgow University and former Tory MSP for the Glasgow region, told Good Morning Scotland it was “straightforwardly unlawful” that Cherry’s event had been cancelled because of staff concerns, describing it as an “uncomplicated case of direct discrimination”.

He explained: “If you make a decision which is made on the basis that you disagree with somebody’s philosophical beliefs, it’s as if you’re discriminating against them on the basis of their religion.

"There’s no distinction in the law between religious discrimination and discrimination on the basis of philosophical belief.”

He added that being “gender critical” would be recognised as forming part of Cherry’s “philosophical beliefs” in the eyes of the law.

“It looks as if The Stand has made a decision to cancel Joanna Cherry’s event on the basis of a disagreement with her philosophical belief.

“That’s a protected characteristic under the Equality Act and therefore it’s direct discrimination and unlawful.”

The Stand said it had become clear that a number of its staff were “unwilling to work on this event” and that it would not “compel them” to work the event.

As a result, the venue said it was unable to properly staff the talk and that it had advised the show’s producers, Fair Pley Productions, that Cherry could no longer speak at the event.

Asked if The Stand are in a difficult position by having to work with staff members that don’t want to participate, Tomkins replied: “No I don’t think they are.

“Isn’t it akin to this situation. What if I were a nurse and I was a Jehovah’s Witness and I was religiously opposed to blood transfusions and I said to the NHS I was unprepared to work on wards in which there were going to be blood transfusions.

“What if I was a Catholic doctor that refused to undertake certain medical procedures because they were a violation (of my beliefs).

“This is unprofessional conduct; it wouldn’t be permitted in the NHS. We don’t permit religious discrimination in this country anymore and we shouldn’t be permitting discrimination on the basis of disagreement with people’s philosophical beliefs.”

He said that “everybody has the right to speak back” and that the answer to disagreeing with people is “not to silence but to listen”.

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He added that he does not agree with “all sorts” of Cherry’s views but that he would rather listen to engage with and “challenge” her arguments.

Cherry posted a reply to Tomkins’s appearance on GMS and said: “Thanks @ProfTomkins for your support not for my views but for my right to express them & for confirming that @StandComedyClub cancellation of me is unlawful direct discrimination based on my philosophical beliefs.”

Further to its statement yesterday, The Stand confirmed to The National that it is seeking legal advice on the matter.