On the afternoon of Sunday 23rd January 2022 Jenni Swayne was arrested by 3 police officers in Newport, Wales and detained for over 10 hours. She is bipolar but was refused access to her medication. She was released on her mobility scooter at 3am to find her own way home, without her mobile phone which the police seized. The police also searched her home and removed some stickers, posters and a book edited by academic Heather Brunskell-Evans.
The police state that Jenni had been arrested on ‘suspicion of criminal damage and displaying threatening or abusive writing likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.’ The police also expressed concern that a poster had been found with ‘sharp objects’ placed behind it but they do not appear to be linking that to Jenni, and she denies that she would ever try to hurt anyone in this way.
The ‘abusive writing’ appears to mean stickers and posters put up by Jenni which mentioned various facts - the risks to women of being murdered by men or that only women have a cervix.
Jenni’s right to believe that biological sex is real and it matters is confirmed as a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010. Jenni’s right to exercise her freedom of speech was recently re-affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Miller v College of Policing and by the European Court in Pal v UK. Discussions about sex and gender identity are political speech which has an enhanced level of protection.
We believe what the police have done to Jenni is unlawful. In taking such a heavy handed approach they have discriminated against her for her gender critical views and breached her Article 10 rights to freedom of speech. The police have taken no action against other groups who sticker and flypost in the Newport area, including those who put up stickers threatening women with a gun if they don’t ‘shut the fu*k up’.
It looks like Jenni is being targeted for saying that sex is real and it matters. Stating biological reality is not offensive and if others claim to be offended by that, they have no right to demand the police take action. More importantly, the police have no legal basis for investigating people for their protected political speech.
Please both sign the petition and contribute whatever you feel able to help fund the legal costs. We want to raise money to get Jenni the best legal representation money can buy to fight this. We want the police to realise they are not above the law and they must operate without fear or favour, to protect us all – not just the groups they agree with.
Jenni has instructed Sharron Boyce of Brett Wilson LLP. If there is any money left over after we have paid for Jenni's lawyers, this will go to similar gender critical and free speech causes. We hope to be able to help other people like Jenni who have been subject to potentially unlawful police interference with their fundamental human rights.
This campaign is being led by Fair Cop, a group of individuals who have come together over shared concerns about police attempts to criminalise people for expressing opinions that don’t contravene any laws. You can find us at www.faircop.org.uk
UPDATE 1 FEBRUARY 2022
Jenni’s solicitor Sharron Boyce has confirmed that she is currently in the ‘information gathering ‘ stage and will be asking for a copy of the custody record, the recorded interview with Jenni and the duty solicitors notes. Costs at the moment are modest, but are likely to increase if and when specialist counsel are instructed.
We aim to update you regularly, so that you know how your money is being used.