Jason Grant has left his post as Tayside’s period dignity officer.
His controversial appointment to the role – the first of its kind in Scotland – made headlines across the world last month.
Among the critics was tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who branded the decision to give the job to a man as “f***ing ridiculous”.
For the past three weeks, senior figures from Dundee & Angus College and Perth College, as well as councils in Dundee and Angus, have been locked in discussions about how to handle the fallout.
Their talks culminated in a statement today from the Period Dignity Working Group – which consists of officials from each of the organisation – alleging “threats and abuse” were a factor in the decision to scrap the job completely.
But their intervention prompted further questions about the serious claims made, their commitment to fighting period poverty, and transparency around the process that led us to where we are now.
Jake Keith and Alasdair Clark analyse the four key points made.
1: “The partners involved in the Period Dignity Working Group are committed to alleviating period poverty in Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross.”
Nobody has ever suggested otherwise.
But if the group is committed to such a goal, why has such an important position been axed completely?
After all, just three weeks ago, Dundee & Angus College said: “A Dundee man who swapped tobacco sales for transforming lives through sport and wellbeing has been appointed to a pioneering new role to end period poverty and reduce stigma.”
2: “It is regrettable that given the threats and abuse levelled at individuals in recent weeks, the period dignity regional lead officer role will not continue.
“Support will continue to be provided to the colleagues and students who have been subjected to personal attack. Their safety and wellbeing is of paramount importance.”
This is the first time the authorities caught up in the period dignity crisis have addressed allegations of threats and abuse.
The Courier approached Police Scotland to ask if the incidents have been reported to them but a spokesperson said it would need more details to search its database.
We asked the Period Dignity Working Group for further information but it declined to comment.
We have also asked Dundee and Angus College Students’ Association for comment.
If the abuse referred to was aimed at Jason Grant, is removing him from his post the right course of action?
3: “The working group is now looking closely at alternative ways to deliver these vital services in line with the legal requirements of the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021.”
Three weeks have passed since controversy surrounding the Tayside period dignity officer job erupted.
But no timeline has been provided for “alternative ways to deliver these vital services”.
Two key questions remain unanswered: When might this happen and has the row over the role caused a delay in ensuring local people are aware they can access free period products?
4: “The group’s joint work to provide free period products is rooted in kindness. We therefore ask that the same spirit of kindness is extended to those involved, and that their privacy is respected.”
This line in the statement captures the passion of the Period Dignity Working Group and it comes just three weeks after Jason Grant spoke to The Courier’s Cara Forrester about his excitement at taking on the job.
But it’s important to remember the role was created because the four organisations (Dundee & Angus College and Perth College, as well as councils in Dundee and Angus) are legally required to ensure period products are free and accessible.
Their own consultation found there was a need to raise awareness and employ someone suitable to lead the project.
And, regardless of what continent the story is making headlines on, the use of public funds comes with the need for transparency.
In our leader column published earlier today, we said: “To be clear: the man at the eye of this storm, Jason Grant, has done nothing wrong.
“He simply applied for a job in good faith.”
We added: “Those behind the recruitment process do have serious questions (many of The Courier’s have been met with a wall of silence) to ask of themselves.
“That is because their decisions set in train a series of events that managed to make a huge negative out of what should have been a major positive for this country.
“Mr Grant has been badly let down.
“But, and this is the most important point, so have thousands of women for whom this legislation is a lifeline.”