Court of Appeal to rule on challenge to police guidance over 'hate incidents'

Former police officer Harry Miller outside the High Court, London
Former police officer Harry Miller outside the High Court, London

Ex-police officer Harry Miller, who describes himself as 'gender critical', received complaints over allegedly 'transphobic' tweets.

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The Court of Appeal is due to rule on a challenge to police guidance over “hate incidents” after a former officer claimed it unlawfully interferes with the right to freedom of expression.

Ex-police officer Harry Miller, who describes himself as “gender critical”, was visited at work by an officer from Humberside Police in January 2019 over allegedly “transphobic” tweets.

An anonymous member of the public complained about Mr Miller’s tweets, leading Humberside Police to record the complaint as a “hate incident”.

A hate incident is “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice”, according to the College of Policing’s guidance on hate crimes.

Mr Miller, from Lincolnshire, challenged Humberside Police’s actions and the College of Policing’s guidance at the High Court.

Last year, the High Court ruled that Humberside Police’s actions were a “disproportionate interference” with Mr Miller’s right to freedom of expression.

But Mr Miller’s challenge to the College of Police’s guidance was dismissed, with the High Court finding that it “serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate”.

In March, Mr Miller’s lawyers told the Court of Appeal that the guidance unlawfully “violates the right to freedom of expression”.

However, lawyers for the College of Policing said any interference with the right to freedom of expression “is proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued by the guidance”.

The court heard the guidance had been “fully replaced”, with updates including “a strong warning against police taking a disproportionate response to reports of a non-crime hate incident”, and directly referenced the High Court’s ruling.

Dame Victoria Sharp, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave and Lady Justice Simler are due to give their ruling at 10.30am on Monday.