Blog: The ostensible trial of Tara Wolf – Part 1
The First Day: 12th April 2018
I was assaulted by Tara Wolf (aka Tara Flik Wood aka Flik Reade) because I was a dangerous “trans exterminatory radical feminist” and he just knew I was going to post footage online outing trans people so that they can be targeted by “exterminationists”. This is what he told District Judge Kenneth Grant, who was presiding over Wolf’s trial at Hendon Magistrate’s Court last month.
Having given my own testimony earlier in the day and now watching from the public gallery, this was the first time I’d seen any explanation from him for what he did to me but it was not the first sign of his rank stupidity and nor would it be the last.
Before he started his testimony we had sat watching in bemusement at his attempt to navigate the simple task of taking the oath. I’d expected him to affirm as I’d done. Instead, he spent ages staring gormlessly at the different books on the stand in front of him, as if trying to decide which colour he liked best. He eventually plumped for a nice dark blue Holy Bible, indicating he’d decided to identify as a Christian for the occasion. Or maybe he really does follow Jesus Christ, his Lord and Saviour. Who knew?
When he was asked to read the words of the oath, Wolf – a former student at Goldsmiths University – apparently thought this meant reading them to himself. We waited an uncomfortable half-minute until he grasped what was required of him and he read them aloud to the best of his evidently limited ability.
One could see what impression the judge was getting at this point and I was acutely aware that he was coming to it from a position of being peeved at me.
I’d informed the police of everything I’d seen of Wolf’s behaviour prior to the trial – specifically the vile misogynistic abuse he’d been posting online (see example right) and his behaviour towards a woman trade unionist on International Women’s Day – but the court was apparently unaware of it.
One of the main pieces of evidence offered against him was the comment he’d posted on Facebook before going to Speakers’ Corner on 13th September 2017. In the comment, he states his desire to “fuck some TERFs up”. His friends who’d been helping him rehearse for the proceedings couldn’t come up with an explanation for that one beyond dismissing it as “just bravado”, which was exactly what I thought when I first saw it soon after it was posted and prior to his attempt to carry it out on me. I honestly didn’t think he’d be man enough to follow through on his threat.
In court, Wolf alleged that I had attacked his partner and that I was “much bigger than her”. See the pic on the right of my three assailants taken on another occasion. Wolf, said to be over 6 ft tall, has his back to us. His partner is on his right. In Wolf’s imagination it seems I’m a giant.
And let’s have a look at the footage. Wolf’s partner is the one in the hood trying to grab my camera, he’s assisted by the ponytail guy and Wolf is the one, also in a hood, who runs up and thumps me and then runs away like a little sissy, as it was put in one of my favourite descriptions of the incidents.
Anyway, after being shown that part of the video, Wolf had no option but to agree that his partner (who I still believe to be male, by the way) had attacked me first. He also said that the reason for his third strike at me was because I was thrashing his partner up and down “like a rag doll”. He said it again and again and again as if his tortured mind was stuck in a loop and needed rebooting. I’ll return to this one later on.
I can’t recall much else that Wolf said beyond his repeated use of the phrase “trans exterminatory (or, sometimes “exterminationist”) radical feminists” and his suggestion that there was a movement of people that want all transgender people dead and that I was part of it. Frankly, he sounded totally bonkers.
After the trial was over, somebody wrote this blog about him and it really hits the nail on the head. (It refers to Wolf as ‘Tanis’, which is his birth name).
As I blogged previously, I’d only got interested in transgenderism a few months earlier and Speakers’ Corner was the first time I’d gone to any meeting about it or met anyone else campaigning around it. I certainly had no history of doxing, dead-naming, outing or otherwise picking on transgender individuals. (See this site’s glossary if you any of these terms are unfamiliar.) At the time, I was still using the term ‘trans woman’ as a rule rather than exception and I wasn’t in the habit of doing what they call ‘misgendering’. Thanks to the behaviour of Wolf and all his sympathisers in the months that followed the assault, my once tentative views have evolved and become entrenched. I’ve also had countless people tell me it was what happened to me at Speakers’ Corner that opened their eyes to the horrors of trans activism. I regard that as a massive silver lining.
Obviously, I was the main witness for the prosecution. What made the headlines after the first day was that District Judge Kenneth Grant told me I had to pretend Wolf is a woman and call him ‘she’. While I’ve often found it quite easy to forget the sex of ordinary, decent, trans folk, I find it impossible to think of Wolf as any kind of woman, not only because of how he had appeared when I first set eyes on him and what he did to me but because of what else I’ve seen of his behaviour (see above and right).
Here’s how it went down:
Early on in my testimony I referred to Wolf as ‘he’ and was asked by counsel to refer to him as ‘she’ or as ‘the defendant’. While testifying, I managed to remember to use ‘the defendant’ a couple of times. However, using a noun instead of a pronoun is a very unnatural way to speak and even more difficult to do so under the pressure of giving evidence in court, never mind under cross-examination from a combative barrister trying her best to get her client off. It was at the precise time during the proceedings that I had to relive the assault and answer questions, while watching a video on a large screen of Wolf and his associates attacking me, that I slipped back into using the ‘he’ pronoun. This was too much for the judge, who interrupted my testimony with the question, “What is the problem?”
What is the problem with watching myself being thumped by a young tall man and having to pretend he’s a woman? Seriously?
He said it in a manner that betrayed his irritation and he didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, he repeated that the defendant wished to be addressed using ‘she’ pronouns and that the court had agreed “as a matter of courtesy”. He suggested that perhaps I “might like to do the same”. He didn’t explain why my assailant was to be afforded this courtesy, while I was being asked to suspend my critical faculties out of deference to someone who had violently assaulted me and why I wasn’t to be allowed to recount what happened to me in a way that was natural and truthful, given that I was under oath.
My response, as has been widely and accurately reported, was: “I’m used to thinking of this person as a male because he’s male.”
It’s not the response I would have liked to have given.
Here’s an article putting it concisely.
I fully expected Wolf’s counsel, Jodie Anderson of Garden Court Chambers, to be hostile. Everyone is entitled to the best defence under the law and the law allows defence barristers to bend over backwards to the point of looking ridiculous in order to try to show culpability on the part of the victim. During my cross-examination, I felt mostly frustration at the absurdity of the accusations she repeatedly levelled against me and her frequent use of the term “TERF”, even though I’d explained it was a derogatory label that transactivists apply to anyone who disagrees with the core tenets of transgender ideology.
The accusations I recall are:
I had “attacked” Wolf’s partner and lifted them up and down and thrashed them from side to side. This individual had at the time of my alleged “attack” on them, just wrested my camera from me and smashed it to the ground. I was holding them round their distinctly unwomanly torso, trying to prevent them from running to grab my camera from the ground where it had landed with a loud crack.
After counsel had ignored my refutations and repeated this accusation for the umpteenth time, I felt somewhat exasperated:
“I’m a 61-year-old woman with osteoporosis and a multiple-fractured shoulder. I can’t possibly lift anyone bigger than me.”
That shut her up on that one – at least until her closing submission the next day when she dropped the nonsense about my lifting the camera-smasher up and down but repeated that I’d thrashed them from side to side. (I wish she could suffer the chronic pain of my shoulder for just one day!) What this scenario implies, of course, is that the young tall fit person in their 20s would otherwise have been immobile, had I not been “thrashing” them around. Think about this. What would you do if someone had their arms around you from behind trying to stop you running away?
Anderson also said something about me videoing people I knew to be transgender. I pointed out that I didn’t know at the time that any of the protesters were transgender. How would I? In truth, I believed the only trans person there was Miranda Yardley, who was to be one of the speakers at our meeting. I’m quite embarrassed to recall saying to a couple of feminist journalists the day after the assault that, “the irony was that the only trans person there was on our side”. It wasn’t until I saw Wolf’s appeal for funding for surgery, which had been online for several months prior to his attack on me, that I realised he identified as transgender. The appeal, by the way, was also reported to police but was not produced to give the lie to Wolf’s claim that he was afraid of being “outed” or “doxed” or whatever it was.
Anyway, in spite of having nothing whatever to go on, Anderson clearly wasn’t prepared to believe that I genuinely didn’t know any of the protesters were transgender and she tried my patience going on and on about it until I snapped,
“They were not easily perceived as trans and I’m happy to go through the video face by face if you want to argue the toss on this one.”
It’s hard to remain unruffled when faced with something resembling a rabid Pit Bull yapping at you which, of course, is exactly why barristers behave like this. Anyway, she didn’t take me up on my offer and I chalked it up as a win. Not that it would have made any difference to me if I had known that any of the protesters were transgender. As the police said when I gave my statement, they are entitled to protest and I am entitled to film them. This was Speakers’ Corner, after all.
The most important challenge Anderson made was when I was asked if anyone had objected to my filming them. This was the one thing about the whole incident I felt most strongly about. As I said in my original blog, not a single person asked me or told me to stop. As can be seen from the video, most are facing me openly and chanting, ”When the TERFs attack, we fight back,” giving no indication whatsoever that they didn’t want to be filmed. I pointed out to the court that their feet weren’t stuck to the ground and they could have just walked away from my camera but they didn’t. And there were, of course, many other people filming, including at least one of the protesters. The reason I was picked on was because I was closest to them and trying to engage them. I also said that none of us wanted any trouble and if they hadn’t followed us to Speakers’ Corner, there wouldn’t have been any.
The ‘defence’ I had most trouble taking seriously was when Anderson produced a tweet from me made several weeks after the assault and before he was arrested. I was genuinely bewildered by this (ultimately successful) attempt to justify an assault on me by pointing at something I said weeks after it had happened. It was in response to a tweet from one of Wolf’s friends giving a “shout out to Tara Flik Wood” (his assumed name). My response had been to tweet, “Hiya, got any hair restorer while I’m in hiding? Love Tara”. My tweet included the same scary pic of him, showing his male pattern baldness, that I had featured in my original blog. I still think the tweet was pretty funny as a response to deliberate taunting of me – all the more so for the fact that, in going through my tweets trying to find some to use against me, this was the best they could come up with.
I had no problem admitting to this tweet but disputed it was abusive. Nevertheless, in her closing speech, Anderson said I’d “admitted to making an abusive tweet”, which I see as blatant misrepresentation on her part. I was mystified as to how it was relevant given that the tweet was made after the assault. The tweet wasn’t kind but I didn’t feel I owed the thug who’d attacked me any kindness.
Anderson clearly disagreed and said the tweet would have been particularly hurtful. From her theatrically plaintive tone, anyone would think I’d done some really awful – like running up and taking a flying punch at someone, for example.
My only other memory of my cross-examination is of constantly forgetting I was supposed to refer to the violent male who hit me and who tells people to suck his cock as ‘she’. I did try because the yapping terrier tactic employed by Anderson was wearing me down. Every time I said ‘he’, she’d bark “SHE!” I hope to goodness she never has to defend a rapist who demands to be addressed as a woman – someone like one of these guys, for example. But if she does, I’m sure she’ll do a great job on, um, “her” behalf.
All I remember about re-examination by counsel for the prosecution was being asked whether I was aware of being filmed by one of the protesters as I was filming them. I was. The young woman who’d filmed Wolf from the back as he took the first run at me was someone I’d exchanged a few pleasantries with when we’d both arrived at Speakers’ Corner at the same time. She was with her girlfriend, who can be seen in this video being pushed back and intimidated by the man with the ponytail because she’d tried to help me, and she was the only one to ask if I was OK when I got up from the ground after my three assailants had fled. I appreciate both of them for showing a modicum of humanity – unlike the rest of the protesters – and especially for allowing the footage she took to be posted online, so I could grab it and pass it on to police. I hope she doesn’t get knee-capped for it.
I must say it had never occurred to me before that the fact that she was filming us undermined the allegation that I shouldn’t have been filming them and that my doing so was intrusive but then I’d always found that allegation to be utterly ridiculous anyway.
Julia Long’s testimony
This was short and sweet as far as I recall. I never understood why only Julia was asked to give a statement when she only saw the very end of what happened and I had provided the police with details of several others who’d seen different parts of it and were prepared to testify. In the video evidence, Julia can be seen singing into a megaphone oblivious to what else is happening because an individual I now know to be called Laurel Uziell is getting in her face and goading her. Anyway, nothing she said undermined my testimony and defence counsel couldn’t undermine her. Some of what she said is recounted in Jen Izaacson’s account of the trial here.
Jen also talks about our respective supporters so I won’t repeat any of that here. Because my family and I drove to the court and used the car park and back entrance, I didn’t even see any of the black-clad gang with their dogs and their sound system. What on earth had they come as? Presumably they were masking their faces to hide from scary people like my supporters pictured right.
I love the contrasting photos which accurately reflect our respective ideologies. They are all about intimidation; we just want to have peaceful meetings where we can share our concerns without getting screamed at and thumped by misogynist bullies and their handmaids.
Anyway, there were about 18 seats in the public gallery, one row reserved for them and one for us. On our side, it quickly became something of a game akin to avoiding the short straw of sitting anywhere near Ada Cable. If you read my original account, you may remember Cable as someone who not only celebrated the violence against me but started an assassination attempt on my character even before I knew he existed. He was wrongly identified by someone as one of my assailants, interviewed by police and eliminated from inquiries. On the evening of the first day, I received an anonymous email which reeked (and I use the word advisedly) of him.
Perjured myself? I have absolutely no idea what he thinks I was lying about but whatever it is, he is wrong. I had no reason to lie because for me the matter was straightforward and I’m going to repeat what happened here for the benefit of anyone who is confused.
What happened at Speakers’ Corner
I went to Speakers’ Corner because it was a gathering point for a meeting I wanted to go to, to hear about proposed changes to legislation that could affect me and other women and girls. A group of perhaps 15 or so young people arrived there at the same time, in order to protest the meeting because they don’t think people they disagree with should be allowed to have public meetings. That was why they pressured the original venue – a library in New Cross – to cancel, so the new venue had to be kept secret but organisers had announced a public gathering point for those wanting to go. I spent the time waiting at Speakers’ Corner chatting to people I’d never met before, because I hadn’t been involved in campaigning on this issue. And, of course, I had no idea who any of the protesters were either.
I had got my camera out to start filming Julia Long as she was about to start singing. The moment she did, the protesters started chanting, “When the TERFs attack we fight back”. I turned around with my camera and moved closer to them, stood a few meters away and started filming. When I asked them, “Who’s attacking who?” Wolf ran out at me and tried to slap my camera from my hand. It was attached to my wrist by a strap so I retrieved it and, as an unfortunate knee-jerk reaction, I started to follow him filming when I should have run away from these crazed women-hating maniacs. Thing is, even back in the school playground I never ran away from bullies. It’s a fight or flight response and running away doesn’t seem to be written in my DNA.
As a result, two of his mates physically attacked me. When one of them managed to wrest the camera from me and smash it to the ground, I held on to him from behind to stop him running and grabbing my camera and making off with it. This is when Wolf can be seen running towards me, raising his right arm high in the air and landing a punch.
All of this was captured on at least three videos that were quickly posted online (a fourth, by an independent witness, was handed to police and shown in court).
But this didn’t stop the demonstrably false narrative invented by Joss Prior – whom I consider to be one of the most depraved and malevolent people I’ve ever encountered online – being circulated by thousands of people leading to months of smearing and harassment and abuse.
Anyway, these are but a few examples of why I nearly spat my drink when, skimming through Ada Cable’s tweeted observations of the trial, I read these words:
So says the man who publicly encourages and celebrates violence against feminists, who trawled through my blog trying to find something to discredit me and ended up labelling me a ‘literal Nazi sympathiser’ (see why on the page I helpfully dedicated to him here).
Try going through what I’ve been through with your help and encouragement, Cable, and see how your mental health stands up to it. Good job I’m stronger than the lot of you put together but I’m sickened at the thought of what effect their hate campaign would have had if they’d picked on someone vulnerable. They knew nothing about me when they started all this crap and didn’t give a toss.
And, as Cable himself has a very tenuous relationship with the truth, the allegations of verbal abuse can be dismissed out of hand. They are total hogwash.
We’ll see what perjury looks like when I describe what happened on the second day.
To be continued.