Hayden vs Farrow – a view from the public gallery
“hypocritical disgusting judgmental bigot”
“narcissistic bigoted harasser”
“toxic individual who peddles bigotry”
“very nasty bully”
“disgusting judgmental bigot”
“sad middle-aged individual hater”
“should be sectioned under mental health act”
“sewer of shite”
These are quotes from some of the tweets read out in Court 37 of the Royal Courts of Justice in London last week, at a hearing to consider an application for an interim injunction against Caroline Farrow by Stephanie Hayden. Given that Hayden was the one seeking the injunction, having turned up at her home to serve the papers in person just a few days earlier, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these tweets were by Caroline about the claimant but actually it’s the other way round. Amanda Jones, counsel for the defence, said there were about 70 tweets that were “immensely abusive of the defendant by the claimant”.
But, according to the claimant – who was representing himself – none of them passes the threshold of harassment under Section 3A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which applies to “conduct that goes beyond mere annoyance, oppressive to a criminal standard”. They are just “robust criticism”, which was justified on the grounds that the defendant was a “public figure commentating professionally on serious, social, moral issues”, (a description more befitting an MP or at least some well-known TV pundit, I would have thought.)
Mrs Farrow’s tweets about Hayden, on the other hand, “far exceeded” that same threshold.
The first one he read out – and described as “particularly concerning” – said,
“Their fixation and lies are terrifying. I hope Hayden dies me or does whatever they are threatening so then I can be left alone.”
Hayden, who on reading the tweet out loud stressed the word ‘dies’ and paused after it, acknowledged it could be a typo but claimed to be unable to see how it could be typed in error.
Most revealingly, Hayden omitted to mention that Caroline had later quote-tweeted herself, pointing out that it was a typo. Thankfully, her barrister did so while making the obvious point that “I hope Hayden dies me” doesn’t make sense; “I hope Hayden sues me” does.
The second tweet Hayden read out described Hayden and others as “psychopathic narcs”, who were always “on her case”. This, said Hayden, in a plaintive tone, was, “just a random, defamatory allegation thrown out there”.
I will say at this point that, in spite of her supposedly being a “public figure”, as Hayden said several times, I’d only been aware of Caroline Farrow since the Susie Green debacle and only woke up to the hate campaign against her after seeing one of the most disgusting and vicious tweets I’ve ever seen directed at an individual. It was the work of trans bully, Joss Prior, and it occurred to me on seeing it that he’d managed to surpass even his own loathsome self this time.
After seeing that, I did a bit more searching and was staggered at the amount of hate and abuse she gets from more people than I could count. What had she done to justify this level of vitriol? I looked and found nothing. I saw that other people who asked for evidence against her were ignored. That, of course, doesn’t mean Caroline is innocent. It does mean that people are confident enough on Twitter to make nasty allegations without needing to provide proof of them. Therefore all the rest of us have to go on is Caroline’s own account, which makes her sound sane and reasonable compared to her rabid detractors. This is why I stand with her against them.
So I take Hayden’s assertion about the tweet he deems “oppressive to a criminal standard” with a pinch of salt. As Ms Jones pointed out, the language “psychopathic narcs” was the only example Hayden gave of what he called “harassing and defamatory”.
One thing that surprised me about the Judge’s response to what Ms Jones called a “positive avalanche of abuse over a number of months”, was to complain that he didn’t know what these tweets were “rightly or wrongly” a response to i.e. what had provoked them.
It occurred to me then that the judge hadn’t even asked that question of Hayden – ‘What had “rightly or wrongly” provoked Caroline’s tweets about him?’ – and I began to be concerned about his objectivity.
In fairness, he did say something about it being the defence counsel’s task to resist an application about her client’s alleged harassment of the claimant rather than make a case against “her”. He also conceded that it was “conceptually possible” for two people to harass each other. At some point during the proceedings, he asked whether there had been any consideration of the possibility that both claimant and defendant undertake to stop tweeting about each other. There had not, said Ms Jones. The claimant had made no such proposal and Mrs Farrow’s requests that Hayden and others stopped tweeting about her were not only disregarded but Hayden reaffirmed his right to “freedom of expression”, while again promoting the idea that Caroline is a public figure. Of course, it’s so much worse to be “harassed” and “defamed” by a public figure.
How it didn’t begin
According to the claimant’s narrative, the problem with Caroline Farrow started at the beginning of February with this tweet (see right) which she used to suggest Hayden might visit her “with or without Dr Adrian Harrop and whack her over the head”.
That, said Hayden, was the basis on which Mrs Farrow interacted with him for the next three months, accusing him of being “some kind of violent stalker intent on harming her, her husband and kids”. But it was her “obsessive” tweeting from 24-28 April and the suggestions that Hayden might behave in a criminal manner that finally provoked him into seeking an injunction to stop her tweeting about him.
The example Hayden read out was this one, referring to fists and a golf club.
The judge’s immediate observation was that the pronoun ‘he’ is used for Hayden but I’ll get to that later.
Hayden, it transpires, was convicted in 1999 for affray with a golf club. The conviction is now ‘spent’. This means that under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which aims to rehabilitate offenders by not making their past mistakes affect the rest of their lives, it shouldn’t be taken into account in sentencing, in the event of Hayden being convicted of something else 20 years later. Nor should it be considered a bar to employment in some fields but not others.
As someone who spent much of my working life in charitable organisations working with vulnerable people, I can say that even spent convictions were taken into account in the recruitment of both staff and volunteers. No way would we take on someone with a conviction for violence or dishonesty, however long ago it was. The fact that someone made a “mistake” once, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make another one or that someone shouldn’t be wary of them. I, for example, will be wary of my assailants and their supporters as long as I know they are alive and so should everyone else be.
That said, I agree that someone with a spent conviction shouldn’t be constantly reminded of that conviction, shouldn’t have it mentioned publicly at all if they have done nothing to invite such behaviour. This, as I learned from Caroline’s counsel, is not the case with Hayden.
Ms Jones pointed out that, contrary to what Hayden had claimed, the tweet about storming into her church on 1 February was not the start of the conflict, nor is it the reason why Mrs Farrow fears violence from Hayden. In fact, some of the tweets from Hayden’s “avalanche of abuse” date back to the beginning of December.
Significantly, she pointed out that Stephanie Hayden and Adrian Harrop had, on several occasions, chatted on Twitter about playing golf near people they dislike, including Harry Miller, who’d provided a witness statement. A tweet by Harrop asking if he could “hire a digger” (a reference to Harry’s business) somewhere in Lincolnshire near to where Harry lives and works was followed up with a suggestion that he and Hayden take a golfing holiday there. On being asked if there was a Catholic church nearby, Harrop responded with a picture of Father Farrow’s church saying that was the only church he was interested in visiting. Father Farrow is Caroline Farrow’s husband and the church is about 200 miles away from the area they were talking about playing golf at where, we learned from Ms Jones, there are no golfing facilities anyway.
No doubt Hayden and Harrop thought this banter – which Caroline Farrow understandably interpreted as a deliberate attempt to intimidate and frighten her – was just hilarious. I’m sure they got off on the idea that she was frightened by these two bullies because, judging by their previous behaviour online, that is the kind of people they are. But far from “just having a joke”, as Hayden whined when it was his turn again, what I personally believe is that they were deliberately trying to goad her into a response that Hayden could use to justify legal action against her because – in my considered opinion – that’s what he’s all about.
By the way, we also heard that Adrian Harrop had tweeted that Caroline is a “bigoted Catholic cunt”.
I suppose I should mention another allegation by the claimant, though this one is so preposterous that I’m almost embarrassed for Hayden. Apparently, there was an Instagram account set up to mock Hayden called ‘Troon of the Bailey’. I’d never heard of it before the hearing, never saw it and it no longer exists. Hayden suggested that Caroline was behind the account and also that she was a poster on the Kiwi Farms forum where there is a mammoth thread dedicated to Hayden in their ‘lolcows’ section. There wasn’t a scrap of evidence to connect her with either and I have no note of whether the judge even bothered to comment.
In contrast, a grotesque website called ‘Tombstone Teeth’ or some such thing, which was set up to abuse, harass and taunt Caroline, did publish information that must have come “from the claimant or those to whom he unwisely entrusted information”, said Ms Jones, while making it clear that it was not actually Hayden’s blog. Indeed, Hayden had strongly condemned the site. By remarkable coincidence, it disappeared on the day of the hearing.
The transgender issue
When I first heard the claimant give “the transgender issue” as the fundamental reason for all the conflict, I was surprised because it sounded to me like an admission that Hayden and others were behaving so hatefully towards Caroline simply because she disagrees with transgender ideology, rather than because she had done any number of unspeakable and unspecified things to other people.
Then I remembered that same ideology is underpinned by a belief that anyone who disagrees with any part of it is, by definition, evil, stupid, bigoted, hateful, dangerous and less than human. Therefore to abuse or promote violence against critics is perfectly justifiable. Time and again on social media we see those who assert that “trans women are women, trans men are men” turn away from debates that involve critical thinking and resort to name-calling and ascribing to critics views we do not hold, because it suits their purpose to do so.
Of course, anyone who challenges that core tenet or any other aspect of transgender ideology is a “bigot” in the eyes of people like Hayden and Harrop and it is more than a little ironic that those who are so quick to label others as such are the most intolerant of views they disagree with.
In court, Hayden alleged that Caroline attacked him on the basis of his protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
“I am a transgender woman who is recognised by the law of this land, regardless of the defendant’s beliefs – religious or otherwise – as a woman.”
It is clearly beyond the capability of the likes of Hayden, Harrop and possibly even of Mr Justice Bryan to comprehend how offensive it is to hear him claim to be a woman on the basis of some subjective feeling of his. Hayden knows nothing of what it is to be a woman and wouldn’t look out of place in a team of road-digging navvies. As I listened to this hulking scallywag claim to be a woman, it struck me – and not for the first time during his testimony – that he was the very personification of the term ‘legal fiction’. Standing a few feet away from where the petite Caroline Farrow was sitting, looking stunning in a red dress with her blonde hair hanging loose, the contrast between them seemed cruel and if he’d been a decent sort, I would have pitied him. But by bringing her to court, Hayden invited the comparison.
Hayden said that in the course of the past week, Caroline had persistently “misgendered” him and had referred to him as a “childless, gay man”. This conduct, said Hayden, “has to be examined in the context of who I am”.
This, of course, is typical post-modernist trans-speak, where what one is in reality, is to be disregarded by everyone else in favour of what one wishes one were. One must go along with a falsehood or be labelled a ‘bigot’ and – as Hayden and friends have demonstrated – much else besides.
While conceding that it isn’t a criminal offence or a tort to describe a [trans] man as a woman and vice versa, if I followed his argument correctly, Hayden suggested that it could be deemed harassment when it was part and parcel of “a course of conduct that could be objectively construed as harassing another”.
He used the analogy of a public square a few times during his testimony. On this occasion it was to point out that if Caroline was shouting in a public square, “Stephanie Hayden, you’re a childless gay man,” she would likely attract the attention of the police.
The judge swiftly intervened to point out the obvious, which is that such behaviour might just be deemed a public order offence and nothing to do with “misgendering”.
Personally, I couldn’t see the point of the analogy. It’s not as if the large, male-bodied Hayden would be likely to fear a physical assault from a small woman like Caroline. That would only make sense the other way round.
I wish that some of the abuse and falsehoods said of me on social media had been shouted in a public square instead because the mere sight of me would give the lie to the suggestion that I am a “giant, terrifying beast” who is strong enough to put a 25-year-old man in a headlock, beat the hell out of them, etc, etc.
Anyway, on behalf of Caroline, her counsel responded that she didn’t accept that using a male pronoun about Hayden is harassment. “It is a legitimate position for anyone to take that a person who is born a man stays a man… Forced speech should never be part of an injunction.”
Ms Jones repeated that you couldn’t take the tweets considered offensive by the claimant as such without considering the context. However, her argument about the lack of full and frank disclosure on Hayden’s part – though it made sense to me – didn’t seem to be taken on board by the judge at all.
In his summing up Mr Justice Bryan nearly sent us all to sleep as he made reference to case after case after case but the most extraordinary thing about his summation was that he kept referring to emails when what this entire case had been about was tweets. Could it actually be that this judge doesn’t understand how Twitter works? That he thought the tweets that Hayden and Caroline had made about each other from behind the block (at least on Caroline’s part – I don’t know about Hayden) were emails sent to each other? This certainly helped to give the impression that he’d already decided on his verdict before the hearing ever took place and all he did on the day was tweak it a bit.
His decision was to award Hayden the interim injunction against Caroline on the basis of the volume of tweets (or maybe he thought they were emails?) that Hayden claims she made within a specific timeframe of a few days in April, while asking for a voluntary undertaking from Hayden which, as I understand it, pretty much mirrors the injunction in all relevant aspects. As Posie Parker amusingly observed later that day, “Fancy taking someone to court to basically get an injunction on yourself.” If all he wanted was for Caroline to stop tweeting about him, he could have offered a deal to stop tweeting about her if she agreed to reciprocate but he wouldn’t do that because he is after something more and perhaps this case will actually go to trial. I certainly hope there is no out-of-court settlement and I’m sure Hayden wouldn’t want one. No, really!
Obviously, I’ve had to miss out a lot of what was said – my shorthand is only so fast, there was legal stuff said that I didn’t fully understand and the hearing went on for over three and a half hours. I had to leave just before the end.
Edited to add: A transcript of the Judge’s summing up is now available here.
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that I understand that Hayden’s claim is not only for harassment but also for defamation, which is curious, given that the Defamation Act 2013 s.1(1) states: “A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.”
What reputation does Hayden have that could be harmed? This video of what happened after he left the court provides a clue:
And here we have an explanation as to what is going on.
Yes, I can totally see why Hayden is worried about his reputation.
- Judge stops transgender Twitter row BBC 02.05.19
- High Court Judge bans a transgender lawyer and a Catholic mother-of-five from mentioning one another on social media following an ‘out of control’ Twitter row Mail 03.05.19
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