Teacher overturns 'hate incident' after 'transphobia' accusation

Feminist teacher, 57, wins battle to overturn police ‘hate incident’ recorded against her after being accused of ‘transphobia’ over social media posts

  • Cathy Kirby was reported to police over a tweet about colours on the pride flag
  • Despite not being charged with anything it was recorded as a ‘hate incident’

A feminist teacher has overturned a ‘hate incident’ recorded against her by police following her social media posts about trans issues.

Cathy Kirby had police officers contact her after trans activists claimed her posts on Twitter were ‘transphobic’.

Despite not being charged with any criminal offence, Ms Kirby was later told by Norfolk Police a ‘non-crime hate incident’ had been recorded against her.

Though the incident was overturned, the 57-year-old from Norwich, Norfolk, said she was never told which of her tweets were considered ‘transphobic’.

Ms Kirby who regularly posts about the threat to womens’ rights posed by trans ideology, said she believed activists had used police to indirectly harass her. 

Cathy Kirby, 57, had to overturn a ‘hate incident’ recorded against her by police after someone reported her over a tweet about not liking the trans colours on the new pride flag

The letter to teacher from Norfolk Police confirming the removal of the non-crime hate incident from her police record

Ms Kirby believes the police incident could have followed her post about the rainbow pride flag having extra colours added to represent trans people.

She said: ‘I made a comment on Twitter calling out the new Pride flag, saying that I didn’t particularly like the trans colours being added because I felt the original was fine as it already represented trans people.’

The officers gave her words of advice, but it was only later she discovered that the non-crime hate incident had been placed on her record after she asked Norfolk Police for more information about her case.

The phrase is defined by the College of Policing’s current guidance as ‘any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’.

Ms Kirby said she feared it would impact background checks for her career teaching English to school pupils online, despite it not being a criminal record.

She said the reference was only removed from her record last October after a long battle involving legal experts and a cybercrime charity.

She said: ‘These people tried to destroy not only my income and my career but my reputation. Norfolk police went along with it.

‘It’s really frightening and quite sinister. Basically this small group has been targeting me for my beliefs and I feel police sending around PCs to tell me off for something I’ve tweeted is harassing me by proxy.

‘There are lots of real crimes they could be investigating, not calling on the doorstep of a 58-year-old woman about people being offended by a tweet.’

Ms Kirby of Norwich, Norfolk, said: ‘I made a comment on Twitter calling out the new Pride flag, saying that I didn’t particularly like the trans colours being added because I felt the original was fine as it already represented trans people.’

Ms Kirby who describes herself online as a ‘wife, mother, feminist, dog-lover, nature-lover and passionate advocate for children’s rights’ said she had been targeted by a ‘very outspoken small group’ due to her gender critical views.

She added: ‘Over the last five years they have used upwards of 20 anonymous Twitter accounts to slur and smear me.’

Norfolk Police visited her home after she named a Twitter account which she believed was behind an anonymous account making death threats against her.

Ms Kirby said that she had also been visited on further occasions by officers investigating her claims that she had been harassed on social media.

Writing on her blog, she described the claims that she was transphobic as ‘untrue and totally laughable’.

She added: ‘I stand up for the rights of women, children and the gay, lesbian and bisexual community. Nothing I have said resembles transphobia.

‘We live in a democracy built on free speech and my views are worthy of respect. The rights of others is clearly not important to the group targeting me, they just wanted to cause me distress by any means possible.

‘This was a unified effort, to get me to lose my income. I am a teacher and if an NCHI shows on an enhanced DBS check, I would lose my job.’

Ms Kirby said she believed her case raised further questions about the extent to which police get involved in controversial online debates.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman told forces to stop recording online arguments as non-crime hate incidents

Last week Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled draft guidelines for forces, requiring them to prioritise freedom of speech over people taking offence and to stop recording online arguments as non-crime hate incidents.

Ms Braverman said: ‘I have been deeply concerned about reports of the police wrongly getting involved in lawful debate in this country.

‘We have been clear that in recording so called non-crime hate incidents, officers must always have freedom of expression at the forefront of their minds.

‘The new code will ensure the police are prioritising their effort where it’s really needed and focusing on tackling serious crimes such as burglary, violent offences, rape and other sexual offences.’ 

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie also recently said he wanted officers to focus on investigating crimes like burglary and domestic violence, and to resist being drawn into policing arguments on social media.

He added that he didn’t want Norfolk officers spending their time ‘sitting on Facebook looking for people being rude’.

Ms Kirby said she had received death threats about her tweets, relating to education issues, including one from an anonymous account calling for her crucifixion which she reported to police.

She was told UK residents had been visited by officers as a result of her complaints, but that a man in the US was outside the jurisdiction of British police.

A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: ‘Over the last five years we’ve investigated numerous allegations and counter allegations of online harassment concerning four people.

‘Following enquiries, no further action has been taken in any investigation and all parties involved have been offered words of advice.

‘If a member of the public reports harassing behaviour, we have a duty to investigate and will respond in a proportionate manner.’

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