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Businessman’s ‘transphobic’ tweet was LAWFUL, High Court rules

Former officer’s ‘transphobic’ tweet was LAWFUL and police breached his right to freedom of expression by behaving like ‘the STASI’ when they turned up at his work to brand it a ‘hate incident’, judge rules

  • Harry Miller, 54, said the police’s actions had a ‘substantial chilling effect’ on him
  • Mr Miller claims that an officer told him that he had not committed a crime
  • However the founder of Fair Cop’s tweeting was recorded as a ‘hate incident’ 
  • A ruling today found the police’s actions were a ‘disproportionate interference’

A former officer’s ‘transphobic’ tweet was lawful and police breached his right to freedom of expression by behaving like ‘the stasi’ when they turned up at his work to brand it a ‘hate incident’, a judge has ruled. 

Harry Miller, 54, who founded the campaign group Fair Cop, said the police’s actions had a ‘substantial chilling effect’ on his right to free speech.

Mr Miller, who is from Lincolnshire, claims an officer told him that he had not committed a crime, but that his tweeting was being recorded as a ‘hate incident’.

Announcing the court’s decision, Mr Justice Julian Knowles said: ‘The claimant’s tweets were lawful and that there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet.

‘I find the combination of the police visiting the claimant’s place of work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the claimant’s right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect.’

The judge added that the effect of the police turning up at Mr Miller’s place of work ‘because of his political opinions must not be underestimated’.

He continued: ‘To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.’

Former police officer Harry Miller outside the High Court today prior to the ruling by Justice Julian Knowles

Mr Miller is the founder of campaign group Fair Cop, which challenges police interference in speech. The 54-year-old picture in the middle today holding a 'We love free speech' banner

Mr Miller is the founder of campaign group Fair Cop, which challenges police interference in speech. The 54-year-old picture in the middle today holding a ‘We love free speech’ banner 

The College of Policing’s guidance defines a hate incident as ‘any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender’.

In a ruling on Friday, the High Court in London found Humberside Police’s actions were a ‘disproportionate interference’ with Mr Miller’s right to freedom of expression.

But Mr Justice Julian Knowles rejected a wider challenge to the lawfulness of the College of Police guidance, ruling that it ‘serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate’.

The judge said: ‘The claimants’ tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet.

‘I find the combination of the police visiting the claimant’s place of work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the claimant’s right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect.’

One of the messages which Mr Miller retweeted was a limerick which included the line, 'Your vagina goes nowhere'

One of the messages which Mr Miller retweeted was a limerick which included the line, ‘Your vagina goes nowhere’

At a hearing in November, Mr Miller’s barrister Ian Wise QC said his client was ‘deeply concerned’ about proposed reforms to the law on gender recognition and had used Twitter to ‘engage in debate about transgender issues’.

He argued that Humberside Police, following the College of Policing’s guidance, had sought to ‘dissuade him (Mr Miller) from expressing himself on such issues in the future’, which he said was ‘contrary to his fundamental right to freedom of expression’.

The judge said Mr Miller strongly denies being prejudiced against transgender people, and regards himself as taking part in the ‘ongoing debate’ about reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which the Government consulted on in 2018.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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