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Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman met with a controversial policing pressure group with links to the right-wing populist movement, including the Reclaim Party, as recently as three weeks ago, Byline Times can reveal.
Fair Cop – which describes itself as a free speech group set up to counter “police attempts to criminalise people for expressing opinions that don’t contravene any laws” – met with Braverman on at least two occasions.
The organisation has publicly criticised the existence of diversity and inclusion programmes, become known for its anti-trans rhetoric, and supported pro-Israeli sentiment while denigrating Palestinian supporters as “terrorist sympathisers”.
Despite this, Fair Cop enjoyed at least two audiences with Braverman since she became Home Secretary in October 2022.
With links to nationalist political party Reclaim, polemicist Laurence Fox, and Brexit-backing multi-millionaire Jeremy Hosking, Fair Cop claims to work with “the College of Policing, police forces, police and crime commissioners and other relevant authorities” to influence policy and approach to law enforcement.
Founded in 2020 by former policeman Harry Miller – who has made derogatory comments about Muslims – Fair Cop has also claimed on social media to have representatives embedded across the police service and boasted that it “[goes] after those who corrupt our police forces with political ideology”.
Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association (NBPA), told Byline Times that his organisation is “concerned” about how groups such as Fair Cop “have been able to influence policing with ideology that targets marginalised groups”.
“Over the last few years, we have seen a crisis of confidence in policing with incidents like the murder of Sarah Everard, the Child Q case, the Operation Hotton report into behaviour at Charing Cross police station, the Stephen Port report, and the recent Baroness Casey review which found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia in the Metropolitan Police Service,” he said.
“Despite these findings, we have slowly witnessed a false equivalence being made between those who fight for the rights of others and those who fight to take away rights which have been gained after many years of discrimination and hostility.
“At a time when there is an impartiality review into policing by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, it is surprising to learn that groups like Fair Cop claim to have members in many police services across the country who remain anonymous.
“These anonymous officers and staff could hold key roles within policing and their influence could be holding back the progress that policing must make during this crisis of confidence from minority communities.”
Braverman was sacked as Home Secretary last week after she claimed the Metropolitan Police was “playing favourites” with pro-Palestinian protestors. Her comments appeared to inflame tensions around Armistice Day commemorations in London, with critics saying it encouraged hundreds of far-right football hooligans to descend on the capital, resulting in violent scenes and more than 100 arrests.
Her comments were the latest in a long line of incendiary statements featuring populist and often anti-minority language on immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, and the Middle East. Many of these views are echoed by Fair Cop.
Byline Times can reveal that her hosting of Fair Cop at stakeholder meetings caused “concern” among senior police officers.
Andy George told this newspaper he is calling on Braverman’s successor, James Cleverly, to cut ties with such organisations and hopes that the Home Office in future will take counsel from less divisive organisations.
Fair Cop and Conservative Populism
On 24 October, Braverman announced on X [formerly Twitter] that she had invited “key policing partners” and “women’s rights campaigners to discuss women’s confidence in policing, police impartiality [and] the role of single-sex spaces”. She added: “It was a valuable meeting with numerous recommendations for consideration.”
Despite Fair Cop’s inflammatory approach towards transgender rights, the organisation subsequently revealed that an unnamed female representative had been present, tweeting: “Very pleased to be invited to what was a very productive meeting.”
Explaining why it would not identify the woman who had attended on its behalf, it added: “She is afraid of what will happen if she is identified. You know who you are, so thank you for attending and the helpful notes.”
It is not known what involvement in the discussion Fair Cop’s representative had.
But senior police sources concerned at Fair Cop’s increasing influence told Byline Times that this was not the first or only time Braverman had hosted the pressure group – which claims to have successfully lobbied police leaders in some forces to prevent its officers marching at Pride.
Fair Cop founder Harry Miller came to prominence in 2021 for winning a legal challenge against a national policy for police forces to record gender-critical views as non-crime “hate incidents”.
Its website states: “Fair Cop is 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. Some of us have been victims of police interaction following social media activity; some are police officers ashamed at police action. All of us are furious with the ‘Big Brother’ overreach of various police forces and other authorities.
“We are united in our aim of enforcing existing laws governing freedom of speech, conscience and assembly – rights that belong to us all in this country.
“Fair Cop is committed to working with the College of Policing, police forces, police & crime commissioners and other relevant authorities to improve the existing guidelines, ensuring they recognise citizens’ freedom of expression while continuing to provide robust protection against real crimes that are truly motivated by hatred.”
In 2020, Fair Cop published a paper calling for the police to refrain from involving itself in political issues, saying: “While the butcher is free to serve up choice cuts of trans rights, green taxes, and immigration policy, the police officer relinquishes such rights.”
The group’s stance towards a range of issues mirrored Braverman’s public statements on a number of occasions after she became Home Secretary – notably in her repeated criticism of the police’s approach to ‘transphobia’.
In September, when officers in West Yorkshire questioned a pensioner over a sticker which said “keep males out of women-only spaces”, she warned that the force was “straying into politically contentious matters”.
Fair Cop and Miller do not focus solely on trans matters, but on a range of issues which are aligned with far-right activism, including anti-Islamic sentiment.
Braverman has previously been accused by the Muslim Council of Britain of fuelling Islamophobia. During the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, she branded peaceful demonstrations for Palestine as “hate marches”, equating the Palestinian cause with fanaticism and violence. She said in March that the police treated antisemitism as “racism lite”.
In August, Miller used X to publicly condemn Islam as a “vile scumbag religion”.
Before setting up Fair Cop, Miller served as CEO of the Reclaim Party, which is funded by Brexit-backing multi-millionaire Jeremy Hosking – and counts anti-vax campaigner Andrew Bridgen as its sole MP – and right-wing legal organisation The Bad Law Project.
Both of those organisations were founded by actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox, who was last month sacked from GB News for a misogynistic on-air rant which also saw host Dan Wootton suspended.
The Bad Law Project has previously supported Islamophobic activist James Goddard, an associate of EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (‘Tommy Robinson’).
The group has used some of the money it has raised from donors to defend a range of notable anti-trans activists, including comedian Graham Linehan and Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshul (‘Posie Parker’).
A Home Office spokesperson told Byline Times that “ministers regularly engage with a range of stakeholders”.
“Improving diversity was at the heart of our Police Uplift Programme to recruit 20,000 additional police officers,” they added. “Police forces are now more representative of the diverse communities they serve.”
Fair Cop and Suella Braverman did not respond to requests for comment.
*This article was amended on 21 November 2023 to remove a reference to Crowdjustice which was erroneously confused with the Democracy 3 crowdfunder site.