A High Court judge has ruled that Humberside Police’s investigation into former police officer Harry Miller for ‘transphobic’ tweets unlawfully restricted his freedom of expression.
Mr Miller was visited by police at his workplace after a complaint was made that he had sent transphobic tweets and that his office was therefore ‘not safe for trans people’.
Mr Miller brought the legal case against the police force and the College of Policing, challenging the recording of hate incidents.
Between November 2018 and January 2019, Mr Miller posted a number of tweets which he said were part of the debate on proposals to liberalise the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
His barrister acknowledged some of the posts were provocative. One said, ‘I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me,’ before adding an expletive.
But, the lawyer added, he never ‘expressed hatred towards the transgender community, or sought to incite such hatred in others’.
In his judgement, Justice Julian Knowles compared the actions of the police to George Orwell’s novel 1984, which famously describes a totalitarian state with police investigating and punishing people with politically incorrect opinions for ‘thought-crime’.
Although the judge ruled the police’s actions were unlawful, he said that merely recording the incidents was lawful.
However, Mr Miller has appealed this finding, which has been referred directly to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Mr Miller commented, ‘This is a watershed moment for liberty — the police were wrong to visit my workplace, wrong to “check my thinking”.’
He has also since founded the campaign group Fair Cop to pressure police to change their policy on hate incidents.