5 Essex Court


22 Nov 19 Back to Listing

Alex Ustych appears in important case about freedom of expression in the age of social media

The judicial review is brought by Harry Miller, a former police officer who tweets about transgender issues and opposes potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (to introduce gender self-identification). A complaint was received by Humberside Police about the tweets, on the basis that they were allegedly hateful, transphobic and offensive to members of the transgender community. Applying the College of Police guidance on hate crimes, the complaint was recorded as a ‘non-crime hate incident’ and an officer offered him words of advice about the complaint.

Mr. Miller challenges the legality of the College of Police guidance on recording ‘non-crime hate incidents’ based on a complainant’s perception and the proportionality of Humberside Police decisions pursuant to the guidance. The claim gives rise to complex and novel issues, such as the scope of the ‘chilling effect’ concept in Article 10 ECHR jurisprudence in circumstances where no legal restriction or sanction was applied to Mr. Miller. The case was heard over two days  by Mr Justice Julian Knowles and has attracted national media coverage: