Police probing hate crime claims need to protect free speech

Patel tells police to do more to protect freedom of speech after landmark court ruling in ‘transphobic’ tweets case

  • Home Secretary pledged to introduce code of practice regarding how details are stored when no crime found to have been committed
  • Comes after former policeman Harry Miller won landmark Court of Appeal challenge this week
  • Had been investigated over allegedly ‘transphobic’ posts on Twitter 
  • After two-year legal fight, panel of senior judges ruled current police rules breached Mr Miller’s freedom of expression rights  

Police investigating hate crime allegations will have to follow new rules in a bid to protect free speech, Priti Patel announced last night.

The Home Secretary pledged to introduce a code of practice regarding how details are stored when no crime is found to have been committed.

It comes after former policeman Harry Miller this week won a landmark Court of Appeal challenge.

He had been investigated over allegedly ‘transphobic’ posts on Twitter – later recorded by police as a ‘non-crime hate incident’.

After a two-year legal fight, a panel of senior judges ruled current police rules breached Mr Miller’s freedom of expression rights.

The Home Secretary pledged to introduce a code of practice regarding how details are stored when no crime is found to have been committed

Now, Miss Patel will table an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to govern how forces store personal data in relation to similar incidents. 

 ‘The police will always have my backing to fully investigate hate crimes, but they must do so whilst protecting the fundamental right of freedom of expression,’ she said.

The way information is stored will be made ‘more transparent’ and ‘subject to stronger safeguards’, a Home Office spokesman said.

Miss Patel will write to the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council later this week ‘to set out the Government’s position and next steps’, they added.

After a two-year legal fight, a panel of senior judges ruled current police rules breached Harry  Miller’s (pictured) freedom of expression rights

Dame Victoria Sharp, one of the country’s most senior judges, said in Monday’s ruling there was no ‘common sense discretion’ in the current rules to stop irrational complaints from being recorded.

The judgment said: ‘The recording of non-crime hate incidents is plainly an interference with freedom of expression and knowledge that such matters are being recorded and stored in a police database is likely to have a serious ‘chilling effect’ on public debate.’

The complaint against Mr Miller, 56, related to 31 tweets between November 2018 and January 2019.

In one, he wrote: ‘I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me.’

Source: Read Full Article