Blog: A year ago I was instructed by District Judge Kenneth Grant to pretend my male assailant was a woman…
There is one reason that trial made headlines and is still talked about to this day. That was District Judge Kenneth Grant’s bias in favour of the defendant – the real one, I mean, not me – reflected most obviously in his decision that I should defer to the wish of this six foot plus, 26-year-old, deluded male and pretend he is a woman. This meant that, while having to relive the assault and give my account of it while watching a recording of it on a screen in front of the court, I was required to refer to him as ‘she’.
If there is one regret I have about my own conduct during the trial, it is that I tried to comply with this demand, even though it felt, as one journalist put it, as if the State was “complicit in giving the attacker one final stab at the victim”.
I resolve, if I ever find myself in that situation again, to vociferously resist any such demand – regardless of whether I’m in the witness stand or in the dock. Given the dystopian times we live in, with not only District Judge Kenneth Grant but also the police and the Crown Prosecution Service behaving like the trans lobby’s mercenaries, I don’t rule out the possibility of ending up in court charged with some trumped up garbage like Miranda Yardley did. There is literally nothing some of these people will not do to try to force people to bow to their will. There are no depths to which they will not sink.
Lying under oath
This thoughtless and unreasonable expectation of Grant that I should “lie under oath” – as so many people have put it – was far from being the worst part for me.
After having listened to four defence witnesses – Ananya Jaidev, Laurel Ulziell, Devawn Wilkinson and Kat Higgins – all of whom did, in fact, lie under oath, the worst part of the trial was hearing the judge say that they were sincere, even though most of their testimony had been comprehensively demolished by the prosecution with the aid of the videos. Even though Grant himself said there was no evidence that I had the defendant in a headlock, as three out of the four defence witnesses claimed. Grant knew that they had lied – so how in the name of reason could he claim that they were “sincere”?
As I said in my detailed blog of the trial, I had told the absolute truth and – unlike the defence witnesses – no part of my testimony had been undermined by evidence. Yet when it came to that part of the defence witnesses’ narrative for which there was no evidence either way, the judge chose to believe their testimony over mine. Thus the judge’s statement that I’d continued filming even though I’d been asked to stop was reported in the newspapers and taken as fact by people with an axe to grind on behalf of what I have come to see as a vicious, evil pseudo cult that, for the sake of humanity, must be defeated. And that pseudo cult even has members in the House of Lords!
And while I’ve no doubt such people will take this statement as evidence of my ‘hatred’ of and ‘bigotry’ towards trans people, regardless of what else I say, I will still reiterate that the pseudo cult I am referring to are those who try to bully and intimidate those of us standing up to them, those who promote transgender ideology – which is misogynistic and homophobic – and violence, whether they are themselves transgender or not. I am NOT including those exceedingly brave trans people who challenge that ideology and are supportive of feminists who do so, one example of many being Leanne Mills (see screenshot, right).
I won’t go into detail about the effect this experience has had on my health except to say that the personal cost to me has been very great indeed. I still wonder about the thinking of Jaidev, Ulziell, Wilkinson and Higgins and about the lengths they were prepared to go to in defence of someone who’d been violent to a woman probably older than their mothers, a woman who’d done nothing to him, to them or to anyone else.
I’d like to ask them if they would have done the same if their own mother or grandmother had been the one attacked?
I’d like to ask the same question of Tara Wolf’s advisor, Andy Meinke, after the part he played in putting together Wolf’s defence, and after protecting the identities of the other two violent, male assailants. (See screenshot right of his response to Tara Wolf’s post on Facebook.)
I’d like to ask Defence Counsel Jodie Anderson of Garden Court Chambers, who publicly boasts of being the first in her – let’s say ‘disadvantaged’ – family to get an education, how she lives with herself defending a violent, hateful thug by attacking his victim? (In fairness, that’s a question I’d like to ask a lot of lawyers whose defence of bad people involves trying to destroy good people.)
Most of all, I’d like to ask District Judge Kenneth Grant, why he chose to believe those four proven liars that an older woman went round provoking and abusing people less than half her age when not one of them could produce any evidence of my having done so? I’d like to ask him why he completely disregarded the evidence of premeditation i.e. the Facebook post Wolf had made asking where the meeting we were attending was going to be held because he wanted to go and “fuck some terfs up”.
And, of course, I’d like to ask him why he thought I owed the man who punched me in the face any courtesy at all, let alone the courtesy of pretending he was a woman like me!
Judicial Conduct Investigations Office
Within ten days of the trial being over, two complaints were submitted to the JCIO about the judge. Apart from fulfilling a request to check it for accuracy, I had nothing to do with the one organised by members of the CATT Facebook group, which was signed by over 600 protesters.
The other complaint was from me personally. Both complaints focused on the judge’s demand that I use female pronouns for my male assailant but mine also referred to a couple of other things, including the repeated use of the word ‘TERF’ by Counsel for the Defence, Jodie Anderson, even though I’d explained it was a derogatory label.
Here is an extract from my complaint:
I did succeed in using ‘the defendant’ a couple of times. However, using a noun instead of a pronoun is a very unnatural way to speak. It is even more difficult to do so under the pressure of giving evidence in court and particularly while being cross-examined by a hostile barrister.
It was at the time during the proceedings when I had to relive the assault and watch videos of Wolf and his associates assaulting me on a large screen that I slipped back into using the ‘he’ pronoun. This was when the judge rudely* interrupted my testimony with the question, “What is the problem?” He said it in a manner betraying his impatience and a total lack of sensitivity to the situation I was in. He did not wait for an answer to my question, however. Instead, he repeated that the defendant wished to be addressed using ‘she’ pronouns and that the court had agreed “as a matter of courtesy” and suggested that perhaps I “might like to do the same”.
The effect of this reprimand was to make it very hard for me to focus on giving my evidence as I wondered why my assailant was to be treated with courtesy while I wasn’t to be afforded the courtesy of recounting what happened to me in my own words, in a way that seemed natural to me and certainly did not involve any derogatory language or falsehoods.
*I want to point that, although an impatient interruption of anyone by anyone else in that manner could reasonably be regarded as ‘rude’, it wasn’t the rudeness that bothered me. I included the word ‘rudely’ deliberately because, believe or not, I could see no other grounds on which I could complain about being asked to lie in court. Clear bias on the part of a judge is not considered a legitimate cause for complaint.
Having realised just how steeply the odds were stacked against me, I wasn’t surprised that both complaints were thrown out. Here’s an extract from the response I received:
The tweet he refers to was one I made weeks after the assault on me, in response to being taunted on Twitter. It featured this pic of Wolf looking particularly repugnant and it said ,”Hiya, got any hair restorer while I’m in hiding? Love Tara”. Jodie Anderson described this tweet as “abusive” (seriously!) and used it successfully to argue that I didn’t deserve compensation for the loss of earnings, I suffered as a result of the trauma visited on me by the assault (which, by the way, was nothing in comparison to the trauma of effectively being called a liar by a misogynist judge and the defamation and harassment I have endured ever since, for which I hold him largely responsible.)
I still don’t understand this decision beyond that I’d been a naughty girl who must be punished for refusing to be cowed by a violent male thug but, in any event, it was a very small amount in question and I didn’t give a shit about it. Applying for compensation is standard procedure and it would have taken more energy to resist the police officer’s suggestion that I did so. The decision gave yet more ammunition to the bullies though.
Anyway, I was ready to throw in the towel at this point but my husband wasn’t and I was persuaded to take my complaint to the Ombudsman, this time arguing that I believed I had been a victim of indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Having studied the chapter on transgender people in the Equal Treatment Bench Book, which is supposedly used by judges as guidance in running trials, we are convinced that women are put at a disadvantage compared to men. We were astonished to discover, as a result of an FOI request to the Ministry of Justice, that “no equality impact assessments were made in the writing of the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB) or for any previous versions.”
Acting in accordance with its recommendations creates a situation that potentially has a disproportionately adverse effect on women by reinforcing a power balance between a male accused and a female witness.
In my case, the guidance was applied indiscriminately. The purpose may have been to treat the defendant and the victim equally but the result was that, in trying to make sure a violent male assailant who claims to be a woman was comfortable by kowtowing and treating him with deference and courtesy, the Judge created an environment that was for me intimidating, hostile, degrading and humiliating.
A man in my position would have been have been affected differently and would probably have behaved differently when told he must refer to his male assailant using a female name, pronouns and possessives. In other words, I would not have been put in this difficult and vulnerable position but for my sex.
That’s the essence of the case I put to the Ombudsman (together with the original case I’d put to the JCIO about Grant’s rudeness and insensitivity).
Many months later I got a response telling me they agreed with the JCIO’s original decision and that any problem with the Bench Book is outwith the Ombudsman’s remit and needed to be taken up with the Judicial College.
Thus, we are in a situation where a woman could face her rapist in court and be required to call him ‘she’ and there is nothing she can do without risking opprobrium, having compensation withheld or even being held in contempt of court, as some trans activists opined should have happened to me.
Some of them won’t be happy until I’m dead.
Of course the Bench Book must be amended. I find it extraordinary that there has been no analysis of its effect on those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act, that it has simply become a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ that creates a situation of indirect discrimination and that this is being indiscriminately imposed on women.
The English legal system is and always has been steeped in misogynistic culture and I certainly understand why women have no faith in it. But we do need to resist and challenge that culture if things are to get any better for its female victims.
It’s been a difficult year dealing with the aftermath of the court case: the unremitting nastiness of trans activists repeating the lie that I had provoked the assault because that is what Grant chose to believe, while the defendant basks in the judge’s support for him and boasts of being ‘Tara the Terf Slayer’.
But just as there was a silver lining to Tara Wolf’s thuggish behaviour, there is also one to District Judge Kenneth Grant’s lack of humanity. In fact, it’s the same silver lining and can be illustrated by the fact that several submissions to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hate Crime inquiry mentioned not only the trans activist bullies that have targeted women’s meetings, not only Wolf’s violence but also “Ms McLachlan’s (sic – they could have spelt my bloody name right!) experiences in court, where she was reported to have been made to use Ms Wolf’s preferred pronouns”.
This echoes my own experience of having had countless people tell me it was the judge’s appalling behaviour towards me that had been the last straw for them. The unlikely partnership of Wolf and Grant together helped peaktrans more people I could have dreamed of. More people are getting active, more people are fighting back.
One day, maybe, I’ll look back and think it was all worth it because we won.
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