Mumsnet ordered to reveal name of user in trans row The Times 10.04.19

The original article is here.

A High Court judge has ordered Mumsnet to disclose the identity of a user who allegedly abused a transgender activist.

Stephanie Hayden, the activist, tweeted an image of the court order given by Mr Justice William Davis, which compels the parenting website to hand over the user’s full name, address, email address and birth date, if known. She wrote: “The days of defaming, abusing, and harassing transgender people on Mumsnet behind the cloak of anonymity are over.”

The order, issued by the High Court, gives Mumsnet until 4pm tomorrow to provide the user’s details.

The comments, by a user known only as “ALittleHelp18”, have been deleted from Mumsnet. The Times understands that they contained allegations of criminality that Ms Hayden said were defamatory. Obtaining the poster’s name could enable her to pursue legal action.

Mumsnet did not oppose Ms Hayden’s application. However, Justine Roberts, the website’s founder, said: “Clearly, if we thought the details we released might be used maliciously, we would be happy to contest the order if one of our users asked us to do so.”

The website, which has 14 million users, brought in stricter rules for its forums last year after it was criticised by activists for allowing posts that some trans people found “offensive or hateful”. Mumsnet said it believed in free speech so would continue to allow people to discuss “biology and scientific evidence”, however, it banned comments that were “aggressive” towards trans people or made “sweeping negative generalisations”.

Ms Roberts claimed last April that transgender “thought police” were pressurising advertisers to withdraw from the website because it allowed discussion of trans topics.

She told The Sunday Times: “What’s worrying to me is the thought-police action around speech and the shutting down of the right to be able to disagree and immediately labelling it as transphobic.”

Ms Hayden, from Leeds, has been involved in a number of prominent disputes. Last year she reported Graham Linehan, one of the creators of Father Ted, to Norfolk police for “transphobic harassment” after he shared a post in which he indicated that she was a “dangerous troll”. She denied the accusation.

In December, Kate Scottow, 38, from Hertfordshire, was arrested and detained for seven hours after she referred to Ms Hayden as a man in a row on Twitter. Ms Scottow denied that she had harassed or defamed the activist.

Lawyers said that if the personal details provided by “ALittleHelp18” proved to be fake, Mumsnet was not likely to be in breach of the order and that forcing a website to verify the accuracy of all their users’ details would be a step too far.

Last night Ms Hayden said: “I have no current criminal convictions.”