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14 February 2020, 12:14 | Updated: 14 February 2020, 14:28
A police force unlawfully interfered with a man's right to freedom of expression by turning up at his place of work over his allegedly "transphobic" tweets, a judge has ruled.
Harry Miller, a 54-year-old former police officer and now docker from Humberside, founded campaign group Fair Cop following the action against him over his Twitter posts.
The married father-of-four has previously described how officers from Humberside Police approached directors at his company when trying to make contact with him.
A community cohesion officer also telephoned Mr Miller in January last year.
He claimed the officer told him he had not committed a crime, but that his tweeting - with 30 potentially offensive posts cited - was being recorded as a "hate incident".
The College of Policing's guidance defines a hate incident as "any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender".
According to Mr Miller, the officer highlighted a limerick about transgender women he retweeted.
It included the lines: "Your breasts are made of silicone, your vagina goes nowhere."
Mr Miller's Twitter account is currently suspended for violating the site's rules.
PC Mansoor Gul confirmed to the Daily Telegraph last year that he had told Mr Miller: "What you need to understand is that you can have a foetus with a female brain that grows male body parts and that's what a transgender person is."
The officer said he made the remark after having "learned it on a training course".
Mr Miller claimed the officer had also told him: "We need to check your thinking."
He subsequently accused the police of using George Orwell's novel 1984 as an "operating manual".
At the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Julian Knowles found Humberside Police's actions were a "disproportionate interference" with Mr Miller's right to freedom of expression.
The judge said Mr Miller strongly denies being prejudiced against transgender people.
He said: "The claimant's tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet."
But Mr Justice Knowles rejected a wider challenge to the lawfulness of the College of Police guidance, ruling that it "serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate".
Speaking outside the court after the ruling while holding a copy of 1984, Mr Miller said: "Mr Justice Knowles was very clear - we have never had a Gestapo or a Stasi in Great Britain.
"Well, the actions of Humberside Police came way too close for comfort. This is a watershed moment for liberty: the police were wrong to visit my workplace, wrong to 'check my thinking'."
He added: "I'm going to continue tweeting, I'm going to continue campaigning and I'm going to continue standing with women in order to secure their sex-based rights.
"This judgment today has told us that we can do that and, if the police come knocking, say: 'Miller v Humberside Police, b****r off!'"
Mr Justice Knowles granted Mr Miller permission to appeal against his ruling on the lawfulness of the College of Police's guidance at the Supreme Court.
A Humberside Police spokesperson said: "We accept the judge's decision today and his findings in the judicial review.
"The mere recording of the incident by Humberside Police as a hate incident has been ruled as not unlawful and in accordance with the College of Policing guidance.
"Our actions in handling the incident were carried out in good faith but we note the comments of the judge and we will take learning from this incident moving forward.
"We will always take hate related offences and reports seriously as they can cause extreme distress to victims and communities, some of whom are incredibly vulnerable members of our society, and people should not suffer in silence."
Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O'Reilly, executive director at the College of Policing, said: "It is pleasing that today's judgment found that the College of Policing's guidance on the recording of non-crime hate incidents is both lawful and extremely important in protecting people.
"Policing's position is clear - we want everyone to feel able to express opinions as passionately as they wish without breaking the law."