A radical feminist who also founded Black History Month in the UK has appeared in court over alleged threats to trans women.
Linda Bellos, previously the Labour leader of Lambeth Council, is facing a private prosecution under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which prohibits “threatening or abusive words or behaviour” that is likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress”.
She appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates Court alongside 43-year-old Rose Venice Allen, who is facing a separate charge of sending an offensive message by a public communications network.
A Private Prosecution After CPS Drops The Case
Protestors supporting Bellos and Allen outside the court. Image Credit: Jem Collins / RightsInfo
The case, which was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), centres around an event last November in York about the Gender Recognition Act.
Bellos’ talk was video recorded – as well as broadcast and shared by Allen – and she said that “having borne two children I think I’m physiologically, and in many other senses, a female and a woman.”
“But I play football and box, and if any one of those b******s comes near me I will take my glasses off and thump them […]I am quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me politically what they are seeking to do is p**s on women.”
Bellos previously said that her remarks were about self-defence, following on from the assault of a radical feminist at a rally in London’s Hyde Park.
Giuliana Kendal, a trans woman who had watched the live stream of the talk from her home, brought the case privately after the CPS decided not to press charges.
Amanda Jones, the barrister representing Bellos and Allen, told the court they would be “asking the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to take on and discontinue the case,” saying that they had already been notified.
She continued that they were therefore “not in a position” to enter pleas, adding that they reserved the right to take their case to a judicial review, as well as applying to withdraw the court summons which was granted without their notice in July.
I am quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me politically what they are seeking to do is p**s on women.
While finishing the pre-trial hearing, District Judge Richard Blake remarked that the case presented “two factions with very different views on the world”.
Within the courtroom itself, one supporter of Bellos wore a t-shirt saying the definition of a woman was an “adult human female,” leading Kendal to make an application for it to be removed as contempt of court.
A protestor outside the court room. Credit: Amy Rosenbaum Rights Info
“It is a political statement which is unacceptable in the courtroom,” Kendal argued. The slogan is used by anti-trans group Standing for Women, and was recently removed from a billboard in Liverpool after complaints.
However, District Judge Richard Blake threw out the request, saying that “people are free to wear what they want.”
It’s a case which touches on several fundamental rights issues – free speech and its limitations, and the rights of those with protected characteristics.
A hearing has provisionally been set for November 30.
Image Credit: Amy Rosenbaum Rights Info
EDITOR’S UPDATE: At a subsequent hearing on 30 November last year, the Crown Prosecution Service took over Giuliana Kendall’s private prosecution against Linda Bellos and Venice Allan and discontinued it.