Solicitor in the human rights department, London
Who? Anna Dews, solicitor in the human rights department at Leigh Day, London.
Why is she in the news? Represents lesbian couple and social media stars Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans, in a landmark discrimination challenge against their NHS clinical commissioning group, NHS Frimley CCG, over its fertility policy.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This claim raises important issues about the provision of fertility treatment to lesbian couples. Put simply, my clients are unable to conceive without external assistance. The defendant’s policy on assisted reproduction means that they cannot demonstrate eligibility for IVF unless they self-fund 12 cycles of IUI (intrauterine insemination) treatment, at a cost of thousands in circumstances where heterosexual couples in a comparable situation do not have to pay. To my knowledge this is the first case of its kind to challenge the lawfulness of a policy on assisted reproduction and could have much wider implications for other CCGs. While the issue of access to fertility treatment for lesbian couples is obviously very important, so too are the complicated issues of discrimination law that arise as sub-issues in this claim.’
NHS Frimley CCG said: ‘The fertility services we provide are based on NICE guidance. While we can’t comment on individual cases we will fully engage with any legal proceedings.’
Dealing with the media: ‘This case received a huge amount of interest from the moment my clients launched their crowdfunding page. It is about the right of two people to start a family and that message is powerful, especially where the reason they are unable to do so is because of less favourable treatment on account of their sexuality. ’
Why become a lawyer: ‘I started a degree in English literature and was interested in ways the law could be used to achieve positive change, but quickly realised that I wanted to learn how to use the law myself rather than write about other people doing so.’
Career high: ‘There have been many. Most recently I am proud of the work that I have done on behalf of workers in response to the pandemic, especially representing Pregnant then Screwed in relation to their challenge to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.’
Career low: ‘I was instructed by Mermaids and Stonewall to intervene in the Divisional Court case brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Permission to intervene in that case was refused which was hugely disappointing.’