Former police officer Harry Miller writes about his important legal case against the police for recording non-crime hate incidents. Harry explains why the police picked ‘the wrong man’ when they found him guilty without trial of a non-crime hate incident.
There was a short exchange at my recent Court of Appeal hearing in which Lady Justice Simler, her eyes wide with dawning, put it to opposing Queens Counsel that under the current hate crime guidance she would be better off accused of a crime than a non-crime hate incident (NCHI). Accused of a crime, she noted, she could at least rely on the presumption of innocence. By contrast, accused of an NCHI, not only are the police relieved of the tiresome burden of proof, they are not even required to provide evidence. All that is necessary for an accusation to stick is the pointing finger of an accuser. No wonder Lady Simler raised a brow. In a less reverential setting, she might have raised the roof.
My NCHI reads as follows:
“Police Crime Report. Suspect: Harry Miller. Offence: Transphobic Hate. Category: Crime non crime.”
The record will remain on a police database, unmovable, for at least 6 years. If this isn’t intrusion enough, consider this: the NCHI is disclosable via a criminal records check should I find myself applying for a position which requires one. My days as a lecturer, it seems, are over as no-one wants to employ a Hater.
Were the police correct? Did my social media account reveal a nascent danger to a vulnerable group? The High Court interrogated each of the tweets identified by the police as being a precursor to criminal escalation and concluded that I was not even in the foothills. Nevertheless, at the insistence of The College of Policing, I remain on a Database of Hate; it is because of this extra judicial fallacy that we wound up in The Court of Appeal.
Presiding alongside Lady Justice Simler and President of The Queens’ Bench Division Dame Victoria Sharp, was Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, who pitched in with his own hypothesis. “What would be the fate of a child who cited a Bible verse to support the position that homosexuality is a sin?” he asked. “Would such a child be recorded as a hater?”
The QC fumbled, too fundamentally decent to look the judge squarely in the eye and say, “Indeed, my Lord.” And yet, that is precisely the answer he should have given.
Since October 2020, The College of Policing has authorised the police to record the details of school children accused of wrong-speak. Questioning gender ideology, supporting a traditional position on marriage, criticising the hijab, laughing at the wrong Charlie Hebdo cartoon, or even preaching the gospel during lunch is now subject to rubber stamping by the Thought Police. “Give me the child and I’ll give you the man,” is the doctrine of these fanatics. A more shameless assault on childhood is hard to imagine.
Aided by a network of anonymised snitches, we find ourselves in 2021 having our personal belief systems scrutinised, categorised and secretly recorded. Take the trans issue, which marked my public departure from liberal ideology. Transphobia is defined by the LGBT pressure group, Stonewall, as any refusal to accept a person’s gender identity (Tetrisgender is my personal favourite, and describes a person who identifies as a Nintendo Gameboy). Such nonsense might be dismissed as the eccentric theology of a Flat Earth cult except for one important thing: the police have adopted the definition. When, in January 2019, PC Gul uttered the words, “I need to check your thinking,” he might just as well have put an E-Meter in my hands and said, “I need to check your engrams.” His question had more in common with Church of Scientology than it did with Sir Robert Peel.
Any shift toward policing on the basis of faith should sound a klaxon to those of us acquainted with church history. It is not only the Catholics with a history of policing doctrine with threats, menaces, and a thumbscrew. The Puritan witch-finders of Maine notched up a body count that would make a Midsomer murderer blush.
The merits of faith should lie entirely within its own veracity, particularly where faith is predicated on its central figure rising from the dead. Such a Saviour does not require police protection and Peter can put down his sword. The censuring of faith, however, is a different matter. The Equality Act 2010 protects the right to practise religion; this being the case, the evangelical Christian can expect the police to uphold the right to worship and beyond that, to do nothing. A police force promoting gendered Thetans whilst restricting the rights of street preachers puts us firmly in Taliban territory.
A year ago, a High Court judge likened the actions of Humberside Constabulary to those of the Cheka, the Stasi and the Gestapo. Some have suggested that this was hyperbole, the equivalent of a juicy steak tossed from the bench in the expectation that I would walk away satisfied, and thereby leave the bigger beast alone. This is wrong on two counts.
First of all, the judge did not use hyperbole. The police are inventing law, making secret lists, and spreading ideological terror through para-police accounts. They are protecting informants, carrying flags, and championing the manifestos of political lobby groups. Being a democracy, we might organise a march against the creeping totalitarianism, but we had better look sharp before The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 further restricts our right to peaceful protest.
Second of all, I was never going to be satisfied with a personal victory against Humberside. The College of Policing is Goliath, and my sling was readied for the giant.
The raw truth is that I was never much inspired by the quiet examples of Martha or Mary; I can barely draw a curtain, let alone make a bed; I pray intermittently, and my preaching is too blunt, too filled with high theology, too peppered with the unspeakable to be allowed anywhere near a pulpit. My inspiration comes from Jael, wife of Hebron, whose notable service was to drive a tent peg through the enemy’s head. Her example, more metaphorical now the days of smiting are gone, speaks to me in a way Martha and Mary never could.
Whilst it is true that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, it is also true that certain battles extend beyond the confines of the prayer closet. Sometimes, wrestling powers and principalities means interrogating unjust policy and letting loose the dogs of law. For this reason, should I be unsuccessful at The Court of Appeal, you will find me leading my legal team to the doors of The Supreme Court. Do I want this? Absolutely not. I’d rather be at home watching Netflix. I’m a lazy, reluctant, accidental man of God.
A friend I attended Bible School with, in Sweden, tells of his introduction to me; sitting cross legged on a bed, apparently, I held forth like Amos, denouncing a litany of sins which the authorities had visited upon my fellow students. For three transgressions and for four, I thundered, rattling the windows of the dorm. Nearly forty years later, the pugilist remains; it’s just that the opponents got bigger. Toby Young, the Secretary General of The Free Speech Union, affectionately refers to me as ‘The Wrong Man’, as in, ‘The police picked on the wrong man.’ Being blessed with a gift to cause trouble, it’s a title that I love.