A businessman who won a landmark case against a ‘Gestapo-like’ police force has revealed how his hate speech ordeal drove him to a breakdown and he was found by officers after wandering 30 miles through the night.
Former police officer Harry Miller, 54, told The Mail on Sunday that the strain of battling Humberside Police over alleged transphobic tweets, and watching his wife and four children suffer, prompted a desperate desire to escape his torment.
The businessman said: ‘I felt I was singled out by the police. I was trying to run away, I did not know what I wanted to do. It was definitely a minor mental breakdown.’
Former police officer Harry Miller, 54, (pictured) told The Mail on Sunday that the strain of battling Humberside Police over alleged transphobic tweets prompted a desperate desire to escape his torment
Mr Miller was investigated by Humberside Police for a series of tweets he wrote in late 2018, questioning whether trans people were biologically women
Mr Miller was investigated by Humberside Police for a series of tweets he wrote in late 2018, questioning whether trans people were biologically women.
Although he was not charged with any offence, the force recorded the tweets as a ‘non-crime hate incident’ on his police record, which would remain on file for his lifetime.
On Friday, a High Court judge likened Humberside Police to the Nazi Gestapo and the East German Stasi over its treatment of Mr Miller, which involved an officer turning up at the company boss’s office in Immingham, Lincolnshire, and telling him: ‘I am here to check your thinking.’
Mr Justice Knowles ruled that Mr Miller’s freedom of speech was violated by the investigation.
Mr Miller, who lives in Lincolnshire, said in the past two years he had feared losing his business and going bankrupt, destroying the careers of his four children and his own mental health. But he said the sacrifice was worth it.
‘People have given up their lives for the principles of liberty, so of course it’s worth it. It’s worth my mental wellbeing, it’s even worth risking my family. Liberty, we either stand for it, or lose it,’ said Mr Miller.
After he was interviewed by police in January 2019, Mr Miller’s tweets about his experience led to comments from thousands of people, including condemnations of the police on social media.
Humberside Police were defiant, issuing a statement saying that Mr Miller’s tweets were ‘transphobic’.
Although he was not charged with any offence, the force recorded the tweets as a ‘non-crime hate incident’ on his police record, which would remain on file for his lifetime
A former constable of two years, Mr Miller discovered that the tweet incident had been entered into his police record as a ‘non crime hate incident,’ which would appear every time an enhanced check was performed on him.
It has emerged that police forces around the country have recorded nearly 120,000 ‘non-crime’ hate incidents.
Mr Miller launched legal action against Humberside Police, so that a court could establish that he did not break the law. His action has so far cost £150,000.
Mr Miller revealed he and his family were the target of vile abuse and death threats. ‘My wife found a tweet saying: “Let’s go and find Harry Miller’s family, and rape them and skin them alive,”‘ he recalls.
Last October, he felt he could not carry on. He switched off his mobile, drove to the Humber Bridge and left his car there.
He said: ‘I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t contemplate suicide as such, but I wished it would all go away. Everybody in my family was terrified that I had killed myself.’
Mr Miller eventually switched his phone on at 1am in a town called Withernsea in East Riding, 30 miles away, and called home.
Eventually, the police picked him up, freezing and bruised from a fall into a ditch. The next day Mr Miller resolved to carry on the legal fight. ‘It’s worth the long night of the soul,’ he said.
Mr Miller added he was fortunate he could afford the court action. ‘That’s why it’s incumbent upon people like me –- we have a responsibility to act on behalf of those who can’t,’ he said.