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Boris Johnson attacks police for 'wasting time' on Twitter trolls instead of tackling knife crime

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Boris Johnson attacks police for 'wasting time' after mother is arrested for calling transgender woman a man

  • Police officers detained Kate Scottow, 38, at her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire 
  • Her mobile phone and laptop were seized and have not been returned by police
  • The complaints made by activist Stephanie Hayden led to arrest of Mrs Scottow
  • Boris Johnson slams case, saying it is a waste of resources at time of rising crime 

By Martin Beckford Home Affairs Editor For The Mail On Sunday and Richard Spillett, Crime Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 05:02 EST, 11 February 2019 | Updated: 09:22 EST, 11 February 2019

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Three officers detained Kate Scottow, 38, at her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, before quizzing her at a police station
Three officers detained Kate Scottow, 38, at her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, before quizzing her at a police station

Three officers detained Kate Scottow, 38, at her home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, before quizzing her at a police station

Boris Johnson has hit out at police after a mother was arrested in front of her children and locked up for seven hours after referring to a transgender woman as a man online.

The former Foreign Secretary spoke out after three Hertfordshire Police officers detained Kate Scottow at her home before quizzing her at a police station about an argument with an activist on Twitter.

Mrs Scottow is accused of a 'campaign of targeted harassment' against transgender activist Stephanie Hayden and has been made the subject of an injunction that bans her from writing about Hayden online. 

A complaint from Miss Hayden was previously behind a police verbal harassment warning given to Father Ted writer Graham Linehan following a Twitter spat. She also campaigned against Sussex University over perceived 'transgender hostility' and was among those who pressurised a billboard company to remove a poster in Liverpool, which said the dictionary definition of 'woman' was an 'adult human female'.

Johnson branded the investigation in Mrs Scottow an 'abuse of manpower and police facilities' at a time when violent crime is on the rise.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he asked: 'Is this really the right way to fight crime? Is this what our brave police officers signed up to do? 

'Are you really telling me that it is a sensible ordering of priorities to round up Twitter-borne transphobes and chuck them in the clink, when violence on the streets would seem to be getting out of control?'

Complaints made by Stephanie Hayden led to both to the arrest of, and injunction against, Mrs Scottow
Complaints made by Stephanie Hayden led to both to the arrest of, and injunction against, Mrs Scottow
Boris Johnson said sending three officers to deal with the case and holding Ms Scottow for seven hours was an 'abuse of manpower' at a time when violent crime is increasing
Boris Johnson said sending three officers to deal with the case and holding Ms Scottow for seven hours was an 'abuse of manpower' at a time when violent crime is increasing

Mrs Scottow's arrest came after a complaint by transgender activist Stephanie Hayden (left). Boris Johnson said sending three officers to deal with the case and holding Ms Scottow for seven hours was an 'abuse of manpower' at a time when violent crime is increasing

Johnson said members of the public would be upset at 'the considerable expenditure of public money on what would seem to be a silly (if nasty) Twitter spat'. 

He said of Mrs Scottow: 'It would seem that her attitude towards transgender people is antediluvian and offensive - but if, and only if, you can be bothered to read her tweets, and if, and only if, you can be bothered to take offence.'  

Mrs Scottow, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, had her photograph, DNA and fingerprints taken and remains under investigation.

More than two months after her arrest on December 1, she has had neither her mobile phone or laptop returned, which she says is hampering her studies for a Masters in forensic psychology.

Writing on online forum Mumsnet, Mrs Scottow – who has also been served with a court order that bans her from referring to her accuser as a man – claimed: 'I was arrested in my home by three officers, with my autistic ten-year-old daughter and breastfed 20-month-old son present. 

'I was then detained for seven hours in a cell with no sanitary products (which I said I needed) before being interviewed then later released under investigation ... I was arrested for harassment and malicious communications because I called someone out and misgendered them on Twitter.'

Confirming the arrest, Hertfordshire Police said: 'We take all reports of malicious communication seriously.'

The case is the latest where police have been accused of being heavy-handed in dealing with people who go online to debate gender issues.

A High Court judge imposed an injunction on Mrs Scottow banning her from personal information about Miss Hayden on social media, 'referencing her as a man' or linking her to her 'former male identity'
A High Court judge imposed an injunction on Mrs Scottow banning her from personal information about Miss Hayden on social media, 'referencing her as a man' or linking her to her 'former male identity'

A High Court judge imposed an injunction on Mrs Scottow banning her from personal information about Miss Hayden on social media, 'referencing her as a man' or linking her to her 'former male identity'

Sitcom writer Graham Linehan was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire Police after transgender activist Miss Hayden reported him for referring to her by her previous names and pronouns on Twitter. 

It was complaints by London-based Miss Hayden that led both to the arrest of, and injunction against, Mrs Scottow.

Transgender wings are planned for British jails 

Johnson waded into the row over resources used investigating transphobia on the day it emerged transgender wings could be introduced in British jails.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) review comes amid the high-profile case of Karen White, a convicted sex offender who is yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery, who was placed in women's prison HMP New Hall after telling authorities he identified as a woman.

He subsequently sexually assaulted two female prisoners.

The 52-year-old, who was previously convicted in 2001 for indecent assault and gross indecency with a child, was ordered at the end of last year to serve a life sentence for the jail sex attacks and two rapes carried out when he was still a man.

In a question asked about the case in parliament earlier this week, justice minister Ed Argar said the matter was being reviewed and that 'new guidelines' on the issue would be announced soon.

High Court papers obtained by The Mail on Sunday detail how Mrs Scottow is accused of a 'campaign of targeted harassment' against Miss Hayden between September and December last year, allegedly motivated by her 'status as a transgender woman'.

The papers claim that, as a 'toxic' debate raged online over plans to allow people to 'self-ID' as another gender, Mrs Scottow tweeted 'defamatory' messages about Miss Hayden. 

She is also alleged to have used accounts in two names to 'harass, defame, and publish derogatory and defamatory tweets' about Miss Hayden, including referring to her as male, stating she was 'racist, xenophobic and a crook' and mocking her as a 'fake lawyer'.

Mrs Scottow denied harassing or defaming Miss Hayden and said she holds a 'genuine and reasonable belief' that a human 'cannot practically speaking change sex', but Deputy Judge Jason Coppel QC issued an interim injunction that bans her from posting any personal information about Miss Hayden on social media, 'referencing her as a man' or linking her to her 'former male identity'. 

Mrs Scottow last night declined to comment.

The case came in the same week as police faced a backlash for phoning a 74-year-old woman to warn her that her online posts about gender identity had offended transgender people. 

Former local journalist Margaret Nelson wrote in her blog that if a transgender person's body was dissected post-mortem, 'his or her sex would be obvious to a student or pathologist'.

But she was later contacted by Suffolk Police, who woke her with a morning phone call, telling her the comments had provoked complaints from members of the trans community. 

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