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Woman wins court challenge over lack of sign language for No10 Covid briefings

Katie Rowley said the Government had breached obligations to make Covid-19 broadcasts accessible to deaf people under equality legislation.

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The Downing Street briefings did not have a sign language interpreter (PA)

The Downing Street briefings did not have a sign language interpreter (PA)

The Downing Street briefings did not have a sign language interpreter (PA)

A deaf woman who took High Court action after complaining about a lack of British Sign Language interpreters at Government Covid-19 briefings in England has won a compensation fight.

Katie Rowley, who is in her 30s and from Leeds, took legal action against Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

Ms Rowley, a self-employed actor and writer, said the Government had breached obligations to make broadcasts accessible to deaf people under equality legislation.

Ministers disputed this and lawyers representing Mr Gove said Ms Rowley’s claim should be dismissed.

A judge based in London made a ruling in Ms Rowley’s favour of Wednesday.

Mr Justice Fordham said the absence of any British sign language interpretation for “data briefings” on September 21 2020 and October 12 2020 constituted “discrimination” against Ms Rowley.

He said damages would be assessed by a judge in a county court and added that the Government was not “in present or continuing breach”.

Similar briefings by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, his Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon and from Stormont in Northern Ireland included British Sign Language interpreters on screen.

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