“This is a complex area of law”
It’s been reported that Justice Warby and Lord Justice Bean have ruled that the right to offend is under freedom of speech in the Scottow and Hayden Court of Appeal case.
The case in question followed cis-gendered woman Katherine Scottow and transgender woman Stefanie Hayden.
Scottow was arrested in 2019 for sending hate speech to Hayden, by misgendering her, calling her a racist and a pig in the wing online.
A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service stated: “The Court of Appeals judgement concluded there was not enough evidence to convict the defendant for persistently making use of public communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, determining that the timing and level of communication exchanged online did not constitute a criminal offence.”
“This is a complex area of law and we will carefully consider the judgement, specifically in relation to comments made online and associated issues of free speech.”
Speaking on their decision Lord Justice Bean and Justice Warby stated: “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.”
They continued: “Those wishing to express their own views could be silenced by, or threatened with, proceedings for harassment based on subjective claims by individuals that felt offended or insulted.”
Since the release of the Justices’ decisions, both parties have expressed their opinions of the ruling.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Stefanie Hayden opened up about the decision and the possible effects this could have on the LGBTQ+ community, stating: “[The judgment] encourages online trolls to abuse, dox and intimidate transgender persons. This is unfortunate and a kick in the teeth to the entire LGBT community.”
“I do not blame Scottow. She was entitled to appeal her conviction and congratulations must be extended to Scottow and her legal team. The higher judiciary have ordained that transgender people are legitimate targets. I for one will keep that in mind and respond accordingly.”
Katherine Scottow also opened up about the decisions claiming it as a “victory for freedom of speech that confirms no one has the right not to be offended.”
“Women fighting for their rights against an aggressive LGBT lobby have been silenced for the past three years. I hope this judgment gives them hope,” she continued.
This ruling will not change the law but some are fearful that this type of judgment could affect future rulings.