Dr Wright was an NHS intensive care consultant when he joined the British Army back in 2009. He served two tours in Afghanistan during his subsequent 14 years’ unblemished service, risking his life to save critically injured soldiers and civilians. During the first of those tours, Dr Wright was placed in charge of a Medical Emergency Response Team, taking daily Chinook helicopter flights across enemy-held Helmand territory. When he returned for another three-month stint, it was to head up the emergency department at Camp Bastion as lead consultant. More recently, he led the army’s 306 Hospital Support Regiment, facilitating training for Ukrainian soldiers to help save lives after the Russian invasion.
In other words, Dr Wright is a distinguished commanding officer with a hugely impressive resume, and just the type of person whose services you’d think the British Army would be desperate to retain.
And yet Dr Wright has been forced to resign having been hit with a transphobia complaint by the army’s “LGBT champions” and then dragged through a Kafkaesque investigation that he describes as “hellish”. His ‘crime’? Reposting a Facebook post on his private Facebook account that stated: “men cannot be women”.
It’s a shocking story, and the Army’s top brass should be hanging their heads in shame that this was allowed to happen on their watch. The freedom to express your views in the public square is a fundamental human right that the British Army is supposed to be defending, not attacking.
The Army’s failings in that regard first became apparent back in May, after Dr Wright shared a post on his private Facebook account from Fair Play for Women, a campaign group that works with governing bodies to preserve women’s sport for those born female. The post consisted of a quote from Helen Joyce, the former Economist journalist turned feminist campaigner.
Shared without any additional comment, it read: “If women cannot stand in a public place and say, ‘men cannot be women’, then we do not have women’s rights at all.”
To Dr Wright, it was an innocuous act, intended to highlight the importance of freedom of speech around an issue which has become increasingly divisive in many Western countries.
But it prompted a junior officer to warn Dr Wright that his gender-critical views could be at odds with the Ministry of Defence’s transgender policies.
A solitary complaint then snowballed, and a group that Dr Wright describe as the Army’s “LGBT champions” subsequently drew up a seven-page dossier about his “substandard behaviour” – which he was never allowed to see. As Dr Wright told the Mail: “The accusations, and the secrecy which still shrouds them is a terrible slur on my honour.”
Unbelievably, a formal investigation was opened, and could have led to him being formally censured under the Army’s Major Administrative Action process. Rather than go through with this Kafkaesque trial, Dr Wright decided he had no choice but to retire six years earlier than planned, slashing his Army pension in the process.
“This attack on my honour made my position completely untenable,” he told the Telegraph. “I could no longer remain in an Army which treated its officers with such disrespect.”
He continued: “What message does it send to women in the army, that merely for noting the existence of women and women’s rights even a Colonel can be placed under investigation? I therefore feel there is no other choice but to make this matter public.”
I’m delighted finally to be able to report that our case team has been supporting Dr Wright since May as he seeks to clear his name. In addition to arranging for him to receive top-drawer legal advice, the FSU will be footing any legal bills.
It beggars belief that the Army would treat any of its soldiers in this way, let alone an officer who has been called “one of the best” and “inspirational” by his troops. The fact that the Army is continuing to hound him following his resignation – the investigation hasn’t been called off, in spite of his resignation – just adds insult to injury. If people risk their lives to serve our country, they should be given medals, not placed under investigation for defending women’s rights.
The Army needs to do the right thing now – apologise, thank Dr Wright for his service and close the case. However, if that doesn’t happen, it goes without saying that the FSU is ready, willing, and able to explore all available legal remedies as we support our member through this unconscionable ordeal.
On that note, I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to our fighting fund since this story broke. It’s because of your contributions that we’re able to support Dr Wright, and others like him. If you can, then please donate to our legal fighting fund and help us to continue to fight for the speech rights of our members – the link to the donation page is here.