If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear – George Orwell.
Sedley LJ in Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions (1999) 7 BHRC 375, :
“Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative … Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having … “
The Harry Miller Case
In January 2019, Harry Miller, a 53-year-old former Police Officer was investigated by Humberside Police for retweeting a poem which was anonymously reported as “offensive and transphobic”.
Miller asked the visiting officer PC Gul if he had committed a crime, to which he stated “you have not committed a crime but your tweeting is being recorded as a non-crime hate incident and I am here to check your thinking“.
Gul explained that, on the basis of the third party complaint, a Hate Incident Record would be generated, regardless of there being no crime nor any evidence of hate.
He warned me that continuing to tweet Gender critical content could count as an escalation from non crime to crime, thus prompting further police intervention.
He offered his final words of advice, words that I will never forget as I was so stunned by them – He said, ‘You have to understand, sometimes in the womb, a female brain gets confused and pushes out the wrong body parts, and that is what transgender is.
I replied Is this really the official police line ?’ PC Gul said ‘Yes, I have been on a course.’
Miller decided to bring a case against the Humberside Police and the College of Policing whose Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG) forms the basis of current practice.
His application for judicial review challenged: (a) the legality of HCOG; and (b) how the police dealt with him under that policy.
His main contention is that HCOG is unlawful on its face as being in violation of Common Law and Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention
This week the case was heard In the High Court before Mr Justice Julian Knowles who ruled that the Police’s response had been disproportionate in the action they took against Miller.
At long last, an English court has struck a blow against the cultural tyranny of thought-crime and in support of freedom of speech, reason and sanity – or so you would believe until you delve deeper into the Judgment (attached).
Yes Harry Miller has rightfully been cleared under part (b) of this case as in Judge Knowles words “PC Gaul’s response under this policy was disproportionate”
On part (a) of the claim – the legality of recording ‘non-crime hate incidents’ in the absence of any evidence of hate being disproportionate and unreasonable under common law/Article 10 of the Human Rights Act.
This was rejected by Justice Knowles and will have to be fought on Appeal at The Supreme Court.
Main Grounds for Refusal
The Claimant’s challenge to HCOG as being contrary to Article 10 fails for a number of reasons.
I reject the Claimant’s submission that the mere recording of non-crime hate speech pursuant to HCOG interferes with his right to freedom of expression within the meaning of Article 10 of The Human Rights Act.
Recording is primarily an administrative process to build an intelligence picture based on statistics. The intelligence picture could include finding that an incident may be part of a jigsaw suggesting criminal activity.
HCOG does not mandate the police to take any form of action in response to a report of a non-criminal hate incident. As a result, where the police do decide to take any action following the recording of an incident, this is carried out on the basis of an operational decision by the police exercising their common law and statutory powers.
I conclude there is no real risk of any further consequences for the Claimant’s rights arising from the mere recording of his tweets pursuant to HCOG.
The Miller case appears to be a very hollow victory given that the main claim has been rejected by Justice Julian Knowles.
Non-crime hate incidents WILL continue to be recorded by the Police on the whim of anyone who takes offence to a social media post or worse still you could fall prey to the ever-growing number of people hired to trawl the internet to find and target “wrong think”.
Hurty words remain a recordable non-crime hate incident – nothing has changed except lawyers have grown richer.
Over to the Supreme Court – for Part 2!
This content was sourced from Unity News Network.