It’s tempting to think, given some recent judgements, that British justice is in as parlous a state as much of the rest of the nation’s civil institutions. This is, after all, a country where a court has ruled that Christian belief is “incompatible with human dignity”. Where pranksters are imprisoned and die in jail for putting bacon near a mosque. Where Tommy Robinson is jailed for potentially offending paedophile gang rapists.

It’s also the nation where “non-crimes” bring the police to your door, sternly lecturing you about what you’re allowed to say and threatening you with arrest. Or actually arresting and convicting you, as British mother Kate Scottow found.

But, finally, one judge has injected a bit of sense into Britain’s increasingly Orwellian state.

A British judge on Friday backed a man who was visited by police responding to his “transphobic” comments posted on Twitter, saying their action had interfered with his freedom of speech.

So, what exactly did he do that necessitated the jackboot of the Thought Police kicking down his door?

Harry Miller posted 31 “gender critical” tweets between November 2018 and January 2019 which were reported to police by a transgender woman, referred to as Mrs B, who said they were “brazen transphobic comments.”

In one message Miller, a former police office himself, wrote: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me,” and in another he said: “You know the worst thing about cancer? It’s transphobic.”


Police categorized Mrs B’s complaint as a “non-crime hate incident” and an officer visited Miller’s workplace. In a later phone call, the officer left him with the impression that he could face criminal prosecution if he continued to tweet.

So, it’s not a crime, but we’ll hound you, and arrest you if you continue to speak.

Miller took legal action against the local police force and on Friday judge Julian Knowles at London’s High Court upheld his claim, ruling the tweets were lawful and that police had disproportionately interfered with his right of freedom of expression.

“In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi,” the judge said. “We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”

Not officially, no. But, in practical terms, when the police are actively monitoring what people are saying and when the law shows up on your doorstep, or raid your workplace, just because of a “non-crime” opinion, how are you not in an Orwellian society?

As more and more New Zealanders are finding out.

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