Transgender lesbian couple win damages after local council ‘sparks witch hunt’
A transgender lesbian couple have won £5,000 in damages – after a letter published by their local council subjected them to a ‘witch hunt’.
The two transgender women, who do not wish to be identified, live in a small village outside Southampton.
The pair’s house was repeatedly vandalised – but after they tried to tackle the issue by installing CCTV cameras, the couple claim Test Valley Borough Council only made matters worse.
The council received a number of letters from ‘concerned’ local residents objecting to the pair’s application for retrospective planning permission for the cameras – but rather than being screened, the letters ended up published online.
The pair say the publication of the letters – one of which made disparaging and “extremely libellous” claims about the women – led to an upswing in abuse.
They told the Telegraph: “The abuse had just escalated. It’s been awful. All we want is to live a quiet life.
“We have had stink bombs thrown at our car, paint and condoms thrown, our garage door dented with pellet bullets, cars parked in such a way that it is impossible to get into our car… the police say they can’t do anything as there is no evidence it’s a hate crime but it’s pretty obvious why this is happening.
“We are both transgender. That is really the only difference between us and other people. Our solicitor described it as a witch hunt.”
Some of the letters objecting to the CCTV cameras had cited young children playing in nearby gardens.
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One of the women added: “The council admitted that it was defamatory and that their procedures had been wrong and that was all we wanted.
“This has been going on for a long time. We could have sued the relevant person for libel but it would be a long, drawn out process and the only real winners in such situations are the lawyers.
“The cameras seem to have worked, the abuse has mostly stopped.”
A council spokesperson confirmed damages had been paid after “the council inadvertently published a third party letter on its website which contained libellous content relating to a planning application”.
Cllr Ian Carr, the leader of Test Valley Borough Council, previously said the offending letter “slipped through the net”. He said: “It certainly shouldn’t have been published. It was accidental.”
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