UK Court Rules Police Interfered With Free Speech in Probing, Warning Man Over Tweets Critical of Transgenderism

LINCOLN, UK — A high court in England has ruled that Humberside Police overstepped their boundaries in their handling of a complaint over a man’s tweets that were critical of transgenderism. The man was investigated and warned, and his tweets were recorded as a non-crime “hate incident.”

“[T]he undisputed facts plainly show that the police interfered with the Claimant’s right to freedom of expression,” wrote Justice Julian Knowles.

“PC Gul’s actions in going to the Claimant’s place of work and his misstatement of the facts, his warning to the Claimant, coupled with the subsequent warnings by the police to the Claimant that he would be at risk of criminal prosecution if he continued to tweet … all lead me to conclude that the police did interfere with his Article 10(1) rights even though he was not made subject to any formal sanction.”

According to reports, in January 2019, business owner Harry Miller received a call from his office that police had arrived at his workplace and wanted to speak to him. Miller consequently called the number provided and was advised that a single complainant, who saw his tweets, looked up his workplace and said that they feared for transgenders in his business because of his remarks.

“I was so alarmed and appalled by his brazen transphobic comments that I felt it necessary to pass it on to Humberside Police as he is the chairman of a company based in that force’s area,” the complainant — only being identified as “Mrs. B” — stated, according to court documents.

“Mr. Miller, whether you or your followers like it or not, you have been served notice that your disgusting, bigoted, bullying, utterly reprehensible behavior is NOT going to be tolerated any longer. That is NOT a threat either,” B also remarked.

But Miller does not believe that anything he said rose to the level of hate or bigotry.

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“I was simply making statements such as, ‘I do not believe trans women are women.’ [I was also] asking questions like, ‘If a person identifies as trans and they commit a rape, which column does that go in? Does it go in the male or the female column?'” he explained in a video created by Christian Concern.

He also asked if Bruce Jenner was always a woman, “why was [he] competing in a men’s event?”

A few of Miller’s tweets were blunt in explicitly naming male and female reproductive organs, or contained remarks such as “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me. [Expletive]” and “Grow a beard, Hon … s’all the rage with the transwomen, appaz.”

The officer who spoke to Miller, Mr. Gul, advised that he was in possession of 30 of his tweets. When asked if he had committed a crime, the officer said no. Miller then asked if any “came close” to being a crime, at which point police read to him a forthright poem critical of transgenderism that he had retweeted, which states in part, “Your breasts are made of silicone. … Your hormones are synthetic … What you have, stupid man, is male privilege.”

Miller noted that he had not written it, but the officer contended that Miller had promoted it nonetheless.

Miller says that when he asked the officer why so much effort was being put into a non-crime, the officer replied, “I need to check your thinking.” He also warned Miller that the matter could escalate into an actual crime. The situation was recorded by police as a “hate incident.”

The businessman, who now runs the organization Fair Cop, found that a rule from the College of Policing requires police to document such complaints and list them as a non-crime “hate incident,” even if the person’s comments weren’t proven to be hateful.

“Where any person, including police personnel, reports a hate incident which would not be the primary responsibility of another agency, it must be recorded regardless whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element,” the rule reads.

Miller said he took the matter to court because he wanted his record cleared. The information may appear when a search is made in a background check.

“If you’ve ever tweeted something or said something, and somebody’s reported you — they don’t like what you say, the police are obliged to record it as a hate incident, and it may very well appear on an advanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, and you may know nothing about it,” Miller explained.

On Friday, Justice Knowles concluded that while he found nothing wrong with merely recording the complaint, and while Miller’s tweets were “for the most part, either opaque, profane, or unsophisticated,” police went too far in their handling of the matter.

“I am quite clear that [the tweets] were expressions of opinion on a topic of current controversy, namely gender recognition,” he wrote. “Unsubtle though they were, the Claimant expressed views which are congruent with the views of a number of respected academics who hold gender-critical views and do so for profound socio-philosophical reasons.”

Knowles also opined that “[n]o reasonable person could have regarded [Miller’s tweets] as grossly offensive, and certainly not having regard to the context in which they were sent, namely, as part of a debate on a matter of current controversy.” Miller’s words, he said, were not directed at the complainant, nor targeting transgenders, but were simply commentary to be read by his Twitter followers.

The judge also noted that there was only one single complainant out of Miller’s 900 Twitter followers.

“Mrs. B chose to read the Claimant’s tweets. The tweets were not directed at her. If the Claimant’s tweets had been reported in a newspaper and Mrs. B had complained as a consequence, then I seriously doubt it would have been recorded as a hate incident,” Knowles stated. “He would have been expressing himself in a public forum (as he did on Twitter) for people to read, or not, what he had to say. What happened in this case was not in my judgment meaningfully different.”

“The Claimant’s … right to speak on transgender issues as part of an ongoing debate was extremely important for all of the reasons I have given and because freedom of speech is intrinsically important,” he concluded. “There was no risk of him committing an offense, and Mrs. B’s emotional response did not justify the police acting as they did towards the Claimant. What they did effectively granted her a ‘heckler’s veto.'”

Read the ruling in full here. 

Miller expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the case.

“This has been a really great day for free speech,” he said. “This judgment has made it very clear on no uncertain terms at all that when the police come against you because you have said something that is controversial, or because some trans person somewhere decided that they didn’t like it, that when they take that trans person’s moan seriously and they come and try and censor you, that is entirely illegal.”

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