A mother-of-two who called a transgender woman a ‘pig in a wig’ has been convicted of sending offensive tweets as protestors assembled outside court.
Kate Scottow, 39, was today found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety to Stephanie Hayden, 48, between September 2018 and last May.
The ‘radical feminist’ was accused of deliberately ‘misgendering’ Ms Hayden by referring to her as ‘he’ or ‘him’ during a period of ‘significant online abuse’.
Ms Scottow had been arrested by police officers last year at her home in Pirton near Hitchin, Hertfordshire, in front of her daughter, 10, and son, 20 months.
Though Ms Scottow’s lawyer Diana Wilson claimed that Ms Hayden was a ‘serial complainant’ with past convictions, and had benefitted from an alleged police failure to investigate the case properly, the judge found Ms Scottow guilty.
Kate Scottow (pictured) was today found guilty of persistently making use of a public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and anxiety to transgender woman Stephanie Hayden between September 2018 and last May
District Judge Margaret Dodd told Ms Scottow that she made deliberate and persistent use of male pronouns, and had caused Ms Hayden ‘needless anxiety’.
This comes as a High Court judge today ruled that a former officer’s tweets were lawful, and police had breached his right to free expression by behaving like ‘the Stasi’ when they turned up at his work to brand his tweeting a ‘hate incident’.
Harry Miller, 54, had been told by police at work that the 30 ‘transphobic’ messages he had tweeted or retweeted were being recorded as a ‘hate incident’.
But the judge ruled that his tweets were ‘lawful’, slamming police for acting like the Stasi, and warned: ‘We have never lived in an Orwellian society.’
Whereas Mr Miller celebrated on the steps of the High Court today, Ms Scottow was found guilty of sending offensive tweets.
Her supporters today gathered outside St Albans Magistrates’ Court to protest the verdict, chanting ‘pig in a wig’ and ‘he’s a man – go on prosecute me’.
Holding banners which read ‘we love free speech’, the mob tied scarves in the Suffragettes’ purple, green, and white to lampposts outside the courthouse.
Scottow’s supporters gathered outside St Albans Magistrates’ Court to protest the verdict, chanting ‘pig in a wig’ and ‘he’s a man – go on prosecute me’
Trumpeting her Gender Recognition Certificate, Ms Hayden (pictured) told the court how Ms Scottow was bound by law to refer to her as a woman. She argued that the defendant was guilty of ‘harassment’ and had ‘misgendered’ her just ‘to annoy people like me’
Businessman’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
By Joe Middleton for MailOnline
A former officer’s ‘transphobic’ tweets were 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, after speaking with an officer in a Tesco car park, said the police’s actions had a ‘substantial chilling effect’ on his right to free speech.
The married father-of-four, who is from Lincolnshire, claims an officer told him that he had not committed a crime, but that the 30 messages he had tweeted or retweeted was being recorded as a ‘hate incident’.
The complaint was received by Scotland Yard from a ‘victim’ who then in turn asked Humberside Police to interview Mr Miller after tracing him to his plant and machinery business.
Announcing the court’s decision, Mr Justice Julian Knowles said Mr Miller’s tweets were ‘lawful’ and 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 said: ‘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 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’.
Ms Hayden argued the defendant was guilty of ‘harassment’ and had ‘misgendered’ her ‘to annoy people like me’, adding: ‘It’s calculated to violate my dignity as a woman.’
Trumpeting her Gender Recognition Certificate, the complainant told the court how Ms Scottow was bound by law to refer to her as a woman.
Ms Scottow was handed a two-year conditional discharge, and was ordered by the court to pay £1,000 compensation within six months.
The judge told her: ‘You felt able to make personal and offensive comments about her. It was abuse for the sake of it.
‘Your comments contributed nothing to a debate. We teach children to be kind to each other and not to call each other names in the playground.’
Ms Hayden was not in court today to hear the judge’s verdict.
Giving evidence, Ms Hayden had complained that Ms Scottow was an Internet troll who had set up multiple Twitter accounts to ‘abuse’ her.
Despite organising for a ‘compromise’ agreement’ following aspersions that were cast by Ms Scottow of Ms Hayden being ‘racist’, the ‘abuse’ persisted.
When she discovered that a second Twitter account had been set up, from which the mother-of-two ‘misgendered’ the ‘pig in a wig’, Ms Hayden reported the incident to police.
An arrest was made at Ms Scottow’s home, where the suspect was then taken to Hatfield Police Station for questioning seven hours later.
The court heard how Ms Scottow, in her police interview, admitted to being ‘immature’ to Ms Hayden, and knew that her tweets would ‘get to Stephanie’.
She added: ‘I think it was not a nice thing to do but it is something I did. I think it is because I felt I was harassed, I was feeling I was bullied. I reacted in an immature and petty way.’
Ms Scottow’s defence, Ms Wilson, had previously told the court how the transgender woman had been before criminal courts on 11 occasions for 21 offences, and had spent six months in prison for obtaining property deception.
Her points were dismissed by Ms Hayden as ‘tittle tattle brought up to smear me’.
The complainant had also faced questions over whether tweets that she had sent a black person, which have been since deleted, were ‘racist’.
She denied any wrongdoing, and claimed that she was being harassed by a person ‘purporting to be black’.
Today, Ms Wilson made an abuse of process argument, claiming that police officers had launched a one-sided investigation relying on Ms Hayden’s testimony.
After the verdict, she told the court: ‘She has ongoing anxiety. This lady is profoundly affected. She did not believe she was committing an offence.
‘She has come off Twitter and is not engaging in these matter.’
It is understood that Ms Scottow is considering an appeal.