IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE CO/2507/2019
THE QUEEN (On the application of HARRY MILLER)
THE COLLEGE OF POLICING First Defendant
HUMBERSIDE CONSTABULARY Second Defendant
WITNESS STATEMENT OF GRAHAM LINEHAN
I, Mr Graham Linehan, writer, will say as follows:
- I am a well-known writer of popular TV sitcoms with a large social media following. I was given a verbal warning by police after a complaint by a transgender activist against me.
- On 6th October 2018, I was telephoned by West Yorkshire police and told not to contact a well-known transgender activist called Stephanie Hayden (SH). I had no intention of contacting SH. We came into contact through social media as part of a broader discussion about gender identity. The police officer in question seemed surprised and relieved when I told him that I had long ago blocked the complainant on Twitter.
- SH is known for beginning legal disputes with people who do not take the extreme fringe view on transgender issues. To date, SH has legal proceedings ongoing against women who disagree with currently fashionable gender ideology. Hayden has previously accused Sussex University of being a “temple of transgender hate” and supported campaigns to oust female academics if they challenge transgender orthodoxy. SH was also among the activists who pressurised a billboard company to remove a poster in Liverpool that said the dictionary definition of “woman” was “adult human female” on the grounds that this definition was offensive to transwomen. These stories have attracted national attention in the press and indicate that there is strong support for gender critical perspectives in the country.
- My introduction to Stephanie Hayden came when I agreed to endorse a group of transexual women who were concerned about the effect the proposed ‘Self-ID’ laws would have on their rights. The group, which gathered together under the Twitter handle @TSVoices, asked me to endorse them and after being assured of their good faith after meeting one of their number in Norwich, I did so. What I did not know was that Stephanie Hayden was in the group, did not agree with its aims, and joined the group in order to destroy it. Sure enough, a day after I endorsed the group, the group fell apart in acrimony, the Twitter account disappeared from Twitter, and soon after Hayden sued the representative I had met in Norwich.
- I discovered that Hayden had a criminal past, and business practises that I believed amounted to fraud. I shared that information by retweeting a thread by an account named ‘Terf Club’. The Times also interviewed me about Hayden’s activities in a piece entitled ‘Father Ted writer Graham Linehan says the trans activist Stephanie Hayden is dangerous troll’. In a tweet accompanying this article, I wrote “My run-in with Stephanie Hayden made the Times. Favourite bit is where Stephanie/Tony/Steven explains how it’s perfectly legal and normal to have multiple identities but if you don’t call him the female one you’re doing a hate crime.”
- I do not accept that this was ‘misgendering’ (although misgendering is compelled speech and not unlawful under UK law). As a matter of common courtesy and practice, I refer to my transwomen friends and associates as ‘she’. However, I consider SH to be someone with misogynist views and a dubious past who uses a transgender identity to conceal that past and bully people into submission, especially those who have questions about SH’s personal story and/or the broader picture regarding gender self ID and law reform.
- Around this time, I also referenced a petition that I and many others had signed asking the LGBT charity Stonewall to acknowledge the conflict that currently exists between transgender and sex-based women’s rights. The petition was written in a measured and respectful tone, calling on the charity to recognise diversity of opinion within the LGBT community.
- SH alo posted a company number on Twitter that linked to my family, in what I saw as an act of intimidation and an attempt to silence me. This happened prior to 27th September 2018 but I cannot locate the exact date. I do have screenshots of the tweets which included details of my wife’s Company House number, and therefore her business address. SH’s actions caused me to lock my Twitter account out of fear of ongoing abuse and harassment. SH then provided a statement to the police alleging harassment, defamation and misuse of private information. Eventually, due to the weakness of his case, Hayden agreed to a ‘drop hands’, which I agreed to because I was running up costs with my solicitor and I wanted this activist out of my life. The experience of dealing with SH online left me and my family feeling vulnerable, sensing the presence of other activists out there waiting for an excuse to target my household, using litigation and, ultimately, the deployment of police force as an instrument of harassment and intimidation.
- On another, separate occasion, on 9th December 2018, I was approached by Norwich police, apparently on the orders of Northumbria police, for tweeting a video appearance of Adrian Harrop - one of SH’s associates – on Sky News. The video was already in the public domain and had been viewed by thousands before I tweeted it, but nevertheless, due to pressure by transactivists, the police chose to visit me at my home. This incident very much upset my wife, so I used the normal complaints procedure. I have received no apology to date.
- In an article in the Seattle publication ‘The Stranger’ entitled Fighting on Twitter? In the UK, You Could Be Arrested for That’, Harrop denied he called the police because I tweeted the video, saying “Mr. Linehan has made a range of unfounded and defamatory accusations against me,” he wrote. “Mr. Linehan made direct reference to me having threatened and harassed women, and having ‘doxxed’ them—a specific allegation relating to the revelation of confidential information about people that they have deliberately sought to keep private. This is a grossly inaccurate and unfair mischaracterisation of my conduct.” He added that by alleging that Harrop doxed women, Linehan, who has over 600,000 followers, put Harrop and his family at risk. Linehan, however, defends his allegation and provided me with screenshots of Harrop revealing the legal name and position of a woman who opposes the GRA reforms on Twitter. The tweets have since been deleted but, Harrop wrote to the woman, “Simple solution here [woman’s name and position]. Delete your material off Twitter. Everything. Delete your profile + remove yourself from the platform. Do that + I will remove all tweets with references to your name + job as will the others w/screenshots of your info on Mumsnet.”
- A worrying absence of proper procedure has characterised my interaction with the police throughout the events described above. For example, the police told my solicitor that I had not received a harassment warning whilst at the same time telling the complainant that I had. To this day I am unsure as to the status of the police ‘warning’ to me and whether or not my name appears on some police record somewhere against a ‘hate incident’ of some description. I do not know what I may have been guilty of or why; nor am I sure what conduct of mine cold be considered unwise or unlawful in relation to any specific legislation, policy or police guidance.
- There is undoubtedly a fringe group of trans rights extremists who want to shut down any and all public debate around trans access to single sex spaces and women’s rights as currently enshrined in UK and ECHR equality law.
- It is my view that the police – who are sworn to political impartiality in the public interest - are allowing themselves to be used on one side of a legitimate national debate by a small group of political extremists with a history of harassing women.
- I am very concerned at the emerging role of the police as reputational bodyguards, acting on behalf of activists who are capable of acting violently and unlawfully.
- I am concerned about what I perceive as a creeping climate of censorship around this issue more generally. The current climate has seen ordinary citizens, professional experts and public figures alike being scapegoated, no-platformed and ‘cancelled’ (to use an unpleasant popular term) for having the ‘wrong’ views on transgender issues. UK citizens are increasingly declining to speak out on important aspects of these issues in order to protect their reputations, families, jobs and even physical safety. Accompanying this trend is an increasingly negative perception of the police as not acting properly and neutrally on this issue.
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I believe the facts stated in this witness statement are true