Transgender tweet case: Officer Harry Miller says he was visited by ‘thought police’ The Times 21.11.19
The original article is here.
Officers who record social media comments as hate incidents are unlawfully acting as “thought police” curbing freedom of expression, a former constable has claimed in a landmark legal case.
Harry Miller, a former constable with Humberside police, was visited by an officer from the force after posting a verse about transgender people on Twitter. In evidence to the High Court yesterday, he said that the officer, PC Mansoor Gul, told him: “I’m here to check your thinking.” Mr Miller, 54, said he was told he had not committed a crime but that his tweeting was being recorded as a “hate incident” under the College of Policing’s guidance and that his social media account would be monitored.
The claims were made during a judicial review of the college’s guidance at the High Court. It defines a hate incident as “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person”.
Mr Miller, who co-founded the campaign group Fair Cop, argues that Humberside police had sought to “dissuade him from expressing himself on such issues in the future”, which was “contrary to his fundamental right to freedom of expression”.
A hate incident can be kept on an individual’s police record, Mr Miller’s lawyers said. They claim that such allegations should be tested for their veracity and not recorded as an “incident” despite being based on a single complaint. Ian Wise, QC, for Mr Miller, said:
“The claimant has never expressed hatred towards the transgender community, or sought to incite such hatred in others, and has simply questioned . . . the belief that trans women are women and should be treated as such for all purposes.”
Jonathan Auburn, for the College of Policing, said that Mr Miller had “engaged in regular tweeting relating to transgender people”. One tweet said: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me. F***ers.”
Humberside police argue that there was no, or only “minimal”, interference with his freedom of expression.