The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed that it is pressing formal charges against a 38-year old mother after she described a transgender activist as a man on Twitter.
Kate Scottow is accused of malicious communications after she tweeted that transgender activist Stephanie Hayden, who was born male but now identifies as a woman, was a man.
Ms Scottow had previously described her upset at being arrested in front of her children at her home in Hertfordshire last December, saying “I was arrested in my home by three officers, with my autistic ten-year-old daughter and breastfed 20-month-old son present.”
She was held for seven hours while being questioned, was fingerprinted, and had her DNA taken, because she was accused of posting “defamatory tweets” about Hayden.
However, Ms Scottow denies the charges saying she has a “genuine and reasonable belief” that an individual “cannot practically speaking change sex.”
The CPS said they are now bringing formal charges after reviewing a file of evidence prepared by the Hertfordshire Police relating to social media posts, and Ms Scottow will appear in court on September 18th charged with causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person.
In 2003, the U.K. banned any online communications that could cause “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.” Free speech advocates say the law is being used by transgender activists to shut down debate or comment around the issues.
Scottow’s arrest prompted serious concern from commentators, including the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson who described the police action as “abuse of manpower” and a “considerable expenditure of public money on what would seem to be a silly (if nasty) Twitter spat.”
Kate Scottow’s husband has set up a fundraising page for the costs of the case. He says his wife initially became interested in the debate surrounding the proposed self-ID for trans people a couple of years ago and how they may affect the safety of women in women’s only spaces.
“She has expressed several contentious opinions and had many arguments/debates online, resulting in her original arrest and now charges under Section 127 (2) (a) of the Communications act 2003 brought against her,” he continued.
“Regardless of your stance on the matter (my wife and I don’t agree on the subject), this is an issue of free speech; given the well documented controversy surrounding section 127 .. and for a mother who has trained for 5 years to better her and her family’s life to have her future career prospects destroyed because of opinions expressed online is clearly a misuse of the law. Sadly, as my wife has been a student for some time, we have no funds to fight these charges, and are looking for donations to assist,” he said.