“We need to check your thinking,” police reportedly told 54-year-old defendant.
The London High Court has ruled a police investigation into allegedly “transphobic” tweets unlawful. The presiding judge, Justice Julian Knowles, likened the police methods used in the case to that of the Soviet secret police Cheka and the Nazi Gestapo. The police action amounted to a “disproportionate interference” with the freedom of speech, the court found on Friday.
Harry Miller, himself a former police officer and now a businessman, was reportedly harassed by the police at his workplace for poking fun at the notion of self-assigning one’s gender. “We need to check your thinking,” one of the officers told the 54-year-old defendant when they showed up at his workplace, Daily Telegraph reported. The local police also approached the directors of his company in an apparent attempt to intimidate him.
“I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me,” Miller had written in one of his seemingly harmless tweets. He was also charged with ‘hate incident’ for retweeting a poem deemed offensive to transgenders.
Police Constable Mansoor Gul admitted ‘educating’ Miller on the transgender issue. “What you need to understand is that you can have a fetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that’s what a transgender person is,” he reportedly told Miller.
The UK newspaper Guardian reported the Friday’s ruling:
Police officers unlawfully interfered with a man’s right to freedom of expression by turning up at his place of work to speak to him about allegedly “transphobic” tweets, the high court has ruled.
Harry Miller, a former police officer who founded the campaign group Fair Cop, said the actions of Humberside police had a “substantial chilling effect” on his right to free speech.
Miller, 54, from Lincolnshire, said an officer told him he had not committed a crime, but that his tweeting was being recorded as a “hate incident”.
In a strongly-worded judgement, Mr Justice Julian Knowles said the effect of police turning up at Miller’s place of work “because of his political opinions must not be underestimated”.
He said: “In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society,” he said.
The judgement came as a disappointment to ‘trans rights’ activists who were hoping for a tough ruling against Miller. Helen Belcher, co-founder of Trans Media Watch, accused the judge of not understanding transgenderism. “I think it will reinforce an opinion that courts don’t understand trans lives and aren’t there to protect trans people,” Belcher said.
“It is a strong warning to local police forces not to interfere with people’s free speech rights on matters of significant controversy,” Miller’s layer said following the ruling.
In his tweets, Miller was responding to the proposed rewriting of the UK’s Gender Recognition Act of 2004, his lawyer said. The government is proposing to lower the age of legally changing one’s gender from 18 to 16. The revised law also reportedly wants to do away with the medical examinations currently required for a legal sex change.
The “self-declaratory model,” as proposed by the UK government, poses the grave threat to women, Scotland’s oldest Catholic newspaper, Scottish Catholic Observer, argued recently. “The dangers posed to women are highlighted by the case of Karen White, a biological male and convicted rapist who, following his incarceration, self-identified as female and applied to be moved to a women’s prison. White’s application was successful. He would later sexually assault a number of inmates at the prison,” the newspaper commented, referring to the case of the notorious 52-year-old British transgender inmate.
Despite the judge dismissing the case against Miller, saying, “The claimant’s tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet,” he may not be returning to Twitter anytime soon. Miller’s account still remains suspended for violating Twitter’s rules.
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