WEST Yorkshire's police chief failed in an appeal to the House of Lords against a court ruling that he acted unlawfully in refusing to recruit a male-to-female transsexual.
Five Law Lords ruled unanimously that the woman, Miss A, was unlawfully discriminated against in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.
They upheld a decision by the Court of Appeal last November that her application to join could not be resisted by the West Yorkshire Chief Constable .
He had argued that she would be unable to carry out body searches on either men or women because the regulations required the searcher to be of the same sex as the person being searched.
Lord Bingham said that, under European law, transsexuals were entitled to the same protection against discrimination as any other individual and to be recognised as belonging to their acquired gender.
No-one searched by a post- operative transsexual police officer who was, visually and for all practical purposes, of the same gender could reasonably object to the search, he said.
Lords Steyn, Rodger and Carswell and Baroness Hale agreed in dismissing the police appeal.
As a result, Miss A is entitled to compensation for discrimination dating back to September 1999, when an employment tribunal found in her favour.
Miss A underwent sex change surgery in 1996 and now has no outward male characteristics.
She successfully completed a police assessment course, but her application to join the West Yorkshire force was rejected in 1998 because of a blanket ban on transsexuals due to intimate body searches.
In 1999, an employment tribu- nal upheld Miss A's complaint of sexual discrimination, ruling that if she was accepted as a woman, "nobody would be any the wiser".
Later in 1999, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that, although it was discrimination, it was not unlawful, because the woman was legally a male and could not be asked to carry out searches on women.
But the Court of Appeal overturned that decision and that led to the House of Lords appeal.