Caroline Farrow, a devout Catholic journalist, is being investigated by the police for “malicious communications” after she posted a series of tweets in which she misgendered a transgender woman.
The reporter was invited to appear on ITV’s Good Morning Britain alongside Susie Green, the mother of transgender daughter Jackie Green and CEO of transgender child charity, Mermaids.
The pair were on the show to discuss Girlguiding’s recent decision to let trans children join their organisation.
Following her appearance, she made a series of comments about Ms Green’s daughter in which she used the incorrect pronouns to describe Jackie’s gender.
In a set of now-deleted tweets, Farrow consistently referred to Ms Green’s daughter as a man, saying the mother had ‘mutilated’ and ‘castrated her 16-year old son’.
In a statement, Farrow claimed not to “remember” the tweets.
“I probably said ‘he’ or ‘son’ or something,” she said.
“All I have been told is that following an appearance on Good Morning Britain I made some tweets misgendering Susie Green’s child and that I need to attend a taped interview.”
Image credit: Jackie and Susie Green/ Mermaids/ Twitter
She said that it was her religious belief as a Catholic “that a person cannot change sex”. Farrow, who is married to a priest, added that she would “happily do jail time” for her “right” to express her belief.
Surrey Police confirmed on Tuesday that they received an allegation over tweets posted by Farrow on 15 October 2018.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a police spokesman said: “A thorough investigation is being carried out to establish whether any criminal offences have taken place.”
What Did The Tweets Actually Say?
The tweets in question have since been deleted by Farrow, but were screenshotted by several members of the public before she was able to do so.
Those screenshots appear below:
What Could Caroline Farrow Be Investigated For?
Farrow’s statements, which make a serious of potentially slanderous and libellous claims about the Greens, could be deemed a criminal offence under the Communications Act 2003.
Section 127 of the Act was added to the 1988 Malicious Communications Act in 2003 to make it an offence to send a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character over a public communications network, like Twitter.
Breaking the law carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
If proven to have been posted deliberately to cause distress, her tweets could also be investigated as a hate crime.
How Has Mermaids CEO Susie Green Responded To The Police Investigation?
Mermaids posted a statement via its website expressing concern at the way the media had reported on Farrow’s tweets stating that Green has asked the police to cease investigations into the messages.
It reads: “Our CEO has now decided that the complaints were being exploited so as to promote an inaccurate discussion of Mermaids and trans issues. She had decided to ask the police not to pursue the complaint on this occasion.
“Hate crime is vastly under reported. The coverage of this story implies that people who report social media hate are wasting police time. This is an appalling use of media to deter and shame families and young people from reporting hate against them.
“We understand that people may not be aware of how it feels to be a trans young person, or a parent supporting them. But protection from hate and harassment is key, and this includes online.”
How Does Human Rights Law Protect Transpeople?
Individuals that identify as transgender are classified as having a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 that prevents them from being discriminated against unfairly, being targeted or harmed.
There should be protection for those facing discrimination – or for those under attack for their association with someone who has a protected characteristic.
Image credit: Trans activists/ Flickr
Discrimination arises when someone is treated less fairly than another person in a similar situation without reasonable justification. It can also occur if you are disadvantaged by being treated the same as another person despite having different circumstances (for example if someone is pregnant or disabled).
Under the Human Rights Act 1998, it is illegal to discriminate against someone on grounds including gender, sex, race, colour, language, religion, national or social origin, property, birth, and more.