Police who warned man about ‘transphobic’ tweets acted unlawfully

Police officers unlawfully interfered with a man’s right to freedom of expression by turning up at his place of work to speak to him about allegedly “transphobic” tweets, the high court has ruled.

Harry Miller, a former police officer who founded the campaign group Fair Cop, said the actions of Humberside police had a “substantial chilling effect” on his right to free speech.

Miller, 54, from Lincolnshire, said an officer told him he had not committed a crime, but that his tweeting was being recorded as a “hate incident”.

In a strongly-worded judgement, Mr Justice Julian Knowles said the effect of police turning up at Miller’s place of work “because of his political opinions must not be underestimated”.

“In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society,” he said.

Miller posted a number of tweets between November 2018 and January 2019 which he said formed part of the debate about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

Knowles stressed “the vital importance of free speech”, saying it included “not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative”.

A thoroughly sensible judgment. What say you?

Article URL : https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/14/transgender-tweet-police-acted-unlawfully

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