Court rules that police went over freedom of speech rules

It has been ruled that the actions of Humberside Police over a series of tweets were unlawful.

The tweets, which have been criticised by trans activists as transphobic, were recorded as a hate incident, which is defined by the College of Policing as, “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice”.

Harry Miller, a dock worker from Humberside, complained that officers arrived at his place of work after trying to contact him over the tweets, and that he was telephoned by a Community Cohesion officer over the incident. 

Mr Justice Julian Knowles agreed last week that the police response was a, ‘disproportionate interference’ with Mr Miller’s freedom of speech, though the guidance from the College of Policing regarding hate incidents was upheld by the High Court.

Mr Miller’s Twitter account is currently suspended for violating the site’s terms, though the judge said that Mr Miller denies being prejudiced against transgender people. 

Carrying a copy of Orwell’s 1984, Mr Miller accused the police of using the novel as,“an operating manual”, and pronounced the day a ‘ watershed moment for liberty’.

Justice Knowles has given support to his intention to challenge the College of Policing guidelines on hate incidents at the Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for Humberside Police told Sky News: “Our actions in handling the incident were carried out in good faith, but we note the comments of the judge and we will take learning from this incident moving forward.”We will always take hate related offences and reports seriously, as they can cause extreme distress to victims and communities, some of whom are incredibly vulnerable members of our society, and people should not suffer in silence.”

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January 2022
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