Archive for the 'U.K.' Category

Destiny Lauren murder trial: update, 30 July 2010

July 30, 2010

Camden New Journal carries an update on the trial of the cis man Leon Fyle, accused of the murder of Destiny Lauren. I’ll just record the relevant parts of the report for now; they speak for themselves and I don’t think I can add anything meaningful at this time.

TECHNICIANS pieced together phone records of a man accused of murder from memory cards that had been broken into pieces, a court has heard.

[…]

Prosecutors told a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court this week that Mr Fyle’s movements had been partly mapped by his use of a mobile phone.

Text messages he sent to women he met through sex websites in the days before Ms Lauren’s death were read to the court on Tuesday morning and exchanges with his former girlfriend were also shared with the jury.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny said Mr Fyle was Ms Lauren’s last customer. It is alleged he killed her before fleeing with a collection of her possessions which later turned up at his home in Lewisham, south London.

After the killing, the prosecution claims Mr Fyle went to a brothel in King’s Cross and spent £250 on sex with two women.

Mr Penny read a series of sexually explicit text messages that Mr Fyle had sent. In one, he said: “Well, I’m a happy go lucky bloke, calm and laid back, looking to have some fun, willing to try anything once.”

After the woman he texted replied, he added: “Yes. I’m feeling horny too. I’m turned on by almost anything at all.”

The phone records also revealed messages between Mr Fyle and his then girlfriend Gemma Hadleigh, the court was told.

Mr Penny said the messages showed Ms Hadleigh had told Mr Fyle that he was an unreliable partner and had berated him for failing to respond to her.

He told the court that she had “alerted” him that police appeared to be watching his home.

One message read: “As I went out there were five men in a black Astra. They knew I clocked them. We all stood outside and made it clear we knew they were there.”

Messages were retrieved by police technicians from SIM cards – the memory cards used in phones – that had been used by Mr Fyle and Ms Lauren.

Both cards “were found in two pieces having been apparently snapped and put in the bin in the kitchen”, Mr Penny said.

Mr Fyle denies murder. The case continues.

RIP Destiny Lauren.

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Destiny Lauren murder trial: update, 25 July 2010

July 25, 2010

The trial of the cis man Leon Fyle, accused of the murder of Destiny Lauren, began this week at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Mr Fyle is alleged to have murdered Ms Lauren in her own home in north London, in the early hours of 5th November 2010, exactly two weeks before the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny said: “The Crown’s case is that it was this defendant, Leon Fyle, who telephoned Destiny Lauren on the evening of November 4 2009; that it was he who travelled across London to visit her; that it was he who went to her premises for the purposes of a sexual encounter; [and] that it was he who killed her there by compressing her neck, most probably strangulation.” [Via Camden New Journal]

The prosecution said that, on leaving Ms Lauren’s flat after murdering her, Mr Fyle – apparently carrying Ms Lauren’s mobile phone (which was later found in his kitchen) as well as a watch and a ring which didn’t belong to him – took a bus to King’s Cross where he had sex with two other sex workers.

In his opening argument to the jury, Mr Penny said Mr Fyle’s phone records and CCTV proved he was Ms Lauren’s last customer. Images from a 214 bus, he added, showed the defendant’s movements.

[..]

In the filmed interview, recorded at the time of her death, [Lyndon Samuels, Ms Lauren’s older brother] said: “I saw Destiny lying on the bed. She was naked. She had something on her arm. I phoned my brother and I phoned the ambulance.”

“I wish I ran outside to see who done it but the man on the [phone] was saying lie her on the floor, see if she’s still breathing.”

Mr Samuels had been waiting in the street outside while Ms Lauren worked, Mr Penny said, and described the man he saw entering her flat as having a “bad looking face”. [Via Camden New Journal]

Lyndon Samuels told jurors yesterday how he found Miss Lauren trussed up and only wearing a cardigan.

“You said that she had something on her wrist or she was holding something on her wrist or her arm,” said Fyle’s barrister Sally O’Neill QC.

“It was like a stocking or something,” said Lyndon […]

Miss O’Neill read out statements from police constables Wayne Clarke and Shane McMahon who attended the scene in the early hours of November 5 last year.

The barrister said Lyndon told Pc Clarke: “She wanted some space, she told me to leave her alone for half-an-hour, so I went to the off-licence at the bottom of the street and bought some lager.”

“I drank some in the gardens before coming back and finding her.”

But Lyndon denied he told Pc Clarke that Miss Lauren had “wanted space” and said he left her Leighton Crescent flat to allow her to entertain her client.

“She didn’t want space, the man was coming up there to see her,” Lyndon told the court. [Via Belfast Telegraph]

The trial continues.

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Feeding the troll, part 2

July 17, 2010

this is what a feminist troll looks likeMy old friend Butterflywings – whose attempts at internet trolling I wrote about here – has submitted a couple of comments to my previous post. They have absolutely no relevance to that piece, of course, although in their own little way they’re really quite priceless, so I thought I’d share them here instead: transphobic hate speech of this calibre needs to put into the public domain so everyone can see it.

I’m not going to bother applying the pink sparklehammer of deconstruction to them; they speak for themselves. It is worth noting, though, that these are the words of a cis woman feminist. This, as they say, is what a feminist looks like.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail : youthinkimtellingyou@yahoo.com
URL :
Comment:
Fuck you, little child. Your attempts to smear me all over the Internet are hilariously pathetic. You’re the one that hangs out in little cliques of people who agree with you.
Accuse me of trolling? Now I am. No point having a debate with morons, after all.

Author : Butterflywings
E-mail : likeintellingyou@hotmail.com
URL :
Comment:
You think you’re so great, don’t you? You realise everyone is laughing at you? I could demolish your pathetic attempt to argue against my arguments if I could be bothered, but frankly, posting links that agree with you…isn’t argument. Trannies are a bit thick, aren’t they.

It’s like waking up to find small piles of very smelly cat poo dotted around the place.

Time for some music, I think.

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UK: Convicted woman could not be “kept safe in a prison environment”

July 14, 2010

Laura Voyce (Image via Manchester Evening News)Via various sources I learn that Laura Voyce, convicted of downloading child pornography, has been handed a nine-months custodial sentence suspended for a year with supervision and 100 hours unpaid work because Judge Lesley Newton, sitting at Manchester Crown Court, said prison would be an “appalling experience” in which Ms Voyce’s safety could not be guaranteed.

Sentencing, Judge Newton told Voyce: “Frankly, you deserve to go to prison, but I can’t bring myself to send you to prison, entirely because I think prison would be an appalling experience for you.”

“I do not see how you could be kept safe in a prison environment with the best will in the world on the part of those who run such establishments.” [Daily Telegraph]

Predictably the tabloids’ “baying mob” (© J. Bindel 2008) – including some of the commenters – has gone to town on the story, not only with its usual bigoted hate speech against trans people generally, but also in its clamour for some sort of vigilante justice to be implemented by demanding that Ms Voyce be sent to a prison anyway, even (especially?) if it’s inappropriate for her as a self-identified woman. And don’t even start me on the cissexism implicit in the assertion that she committed the crime because she’s “biologically male”.

For what it’s worth, I’m not comfortable with the decision either – there are established and severe penalties for anyone convicted of downloading child pornography, and the law applies to all, whether trans or cis. In my view it’s child abuse, no more and no less, and the seriousness of the offence cannot and should not be understated.

But I believe that both the judge and the more reactionary elements of mainstream cis society have failed to address the underlying questions of why there’s no appropriate accommodation for trans women who may be convicted of offences which carry a custodial sentence; and of why nothing has been done to resolve the well-known “no match” situation (in this case, Ms Voyce hasn’t transitioned surgically and therefore is not able to receive any of the protections afforded by possessing a Gender Recognition Certificate)

So now we have a situation where a trans woman has been outed to the general public, convicted of (what is, in my opinion) a particularly nasty offence and (presumably) sent back to the address she was living at before. In the circumstances, I don’t understand how that’s necessarily going to be any safer for her than being sent to prison. It would be very easy to say, “She should have thought of that before she downloaded child pornography”, but to me that is an obvious kneejerk reaction which adds nothing to the discussion. Because until or unless the legal status of trans people who aren’t eligible for recognition under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act is clarified, then cases like this will surely happen again.

UK: Identity Documents Bill 2010-11: progress report 30 June 2010

June 30, 2010

Having completed its First and Second Readings, the Identity Documents Bill 2010-11 has now reached the Committee stage of its progress through the House of Commons, according to the Parliament UK website.

The committee’s consideration of the Bill is scheduled to be completed on or before 8 July 2010.

Summary of the Bill

The main purpose of this Bill is to abolish identity cards and the National Identity Register; it repeals the Identity Cards Act 2006. There are no provisions for refunding existing cardholders.

A small number of provisions in the 2006 Act – unrelated to ID cards – reappear in the Bill. These cover offences relating to the possession and manufacture of false identity documents such as passports and driving licences. The Bill also re-enacts data-sharing provisions in the 2006 Act designed to verify information provided in connection with passport applications. Identification cards for non-EEA nationals are not affected by the provisions.

The ‘small print’ in the second paragraph of that quote seems to re-confirm that, even though ID cards may be abolished for UK citizens, the national identity database remains in place and, presumably, active.

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Cross-posted at The F-Word

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18 June: Andrea Waddell would have celebrated her 30th birthday today

June 18, 2010

Andrea Waddell (Image via Reading Post)

Following Neil McMillan’s conviction and life sentence for murder, Andrea’s brother Nick said outside Lewes Crown Court two weeks ago:

“We hope everyone who has read about Andrea over the past seven months will be inspired by her, as we all are, to live their lives true to themselves, not to judge other people for their differences and to strive to make the world a better and more just place.”[Via]

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UK Government “committed” to GLb(t) anti discrimination and prejudice plan

June 16, 2010

Government Equalities Office logoAccording to this Press Release, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Theresa May today set out “an ambitious cross-government programme of work” with the admirable intention of tackling anti GLb(t) prejudice, including these aims:

  • a commitment to remove historical convictions for consensual gay sex from criminal records;
  • new work to end the blight of homophobic bullying in schools;
  • work to allow same-sex couples to register their relationships in a religious setting;
  • lobbying other countries to repeal homophobic legislation and recognise UK civil partnerships;
  • and an end to the removal of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.

Whilst I welcome Mrs May’s recent change of mind on gay adoption and applaud her commitment to scrapping ID cards and the National Identity Register, it should be remembered that anti GLb(t) prejudice and discrimination – and the consequent bigotry, hate speech and violence – remain daily realities for many.

With that in mind, and in the knowledge that a “more detailed action plan, setting out exactly how all the changes will be delivered” at an unspecified date sometime in the next six months, I hope Mrs May will understand my scepticism towards her wish to “tear down barriers to equal opportunities” and “build a fairer society”. Because without a clearly defined plan of action – drawn up in consultation with those affected by prejudice and discrimination towards our gender identity and/or sexual orientation – her fine words remain only that.

And so I, for one, await with interest the publication and implementation of the promised “detailed action plan”. Only then will members of the GLb(t) community be able to judge just how seriously the government takes this commitment.

Later today the Minister for Women and Equality will join the Prime Minister and figures from across the LGB and T community for a reception at 10 Downing Street to mark the beginning of Pride London fortnight.

Dwahlings, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am not to have been invited – and me a member of the trans community and the Downing Street Project’s mock Cabinet, and all. Obviously I need to work at my (lack of) social climbing skills.

…saucer of milk for table 5…

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ETA 17 June: I’ve been sent a copy of the full statement (Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality) that yesterday’s announcement was based on. I’ve not been able to track down where it’s cached online so, for any interested parties, I’ve uploaded a copy of the 4-page PDF document to this site – here’s the direct link to it.

Whilst it’s still short on the detail of exactly how it will be implemented, it does add a little more about the scope – for example, the focus on SSM will also include working to improve recognition of civil partnerships outside the UK. Perhaps more significant is this paragraph on asylum:

We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.

And the further information in the section on additional action for trans equality is also to be welcomed – although I have to say that I’m still reserving final judgement until I’ve seen more concrete proposals.

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Cross-posted at The F-Word

Lynne Featherstone on gender identity and human rights

June 5, 2010

Lynne Featherstone (Image via Twitter)I’m beyond disillusioned with party politics in the UK these days, so I approached the website of Lynne Featherstone, “MP for Hornsey and Wood Green since 2005” and now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Equalities, with distinctly low expectations of her having anything useful to say on the subject of social justice and civil rights for TS/TG people. So it was a bit of a surprise to find her holding forth on her blog with a piece called Gender Identity and Human Rights.

Leaving aside her lack of clarity about whether the Equality Act 2010 will be amended to reflect the views of many in my community and her omission of non binary identified trans people – not to mention the complete erasure of intersex identities (why does that not surprise me?) – at least her message of support for the International Congress on Gender Identity and Human Rights, currently being held in Barcelona) recognises the existence of transphobia, if not its pervasiveness or severity.

The UK Government is totally committed to creating a society that is fair for everyone. We are committed to tackling prejudice and discrimination against transgender people at home and around the world.

The Government wishes the International Congress on Gender Identity and Human Rights every success when considering how to improve the rights of transgender individuals around the world and in tackling transphobia.

We need concerted government action to tear down barriers and help to build a fairer society for transgender people.

It’s a start, I suppose – a small step in the right direction – but quite frankly, it’s nowhere near enough to begin redressing the balance. I only hope that she, along with her boss (the famously homophobic Theresa May) and the rest of the motley crew of lawmakers now running the country will ramp up their efforts and treat this too-often neglected issue with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. Because what my community doesn’t need is yet another meaningless PR statement which will be forgotten as soon as it’s been published.

Andrea Waddell: murder trial verdict (4 June 2010)

June 4, 2010

Andrea Waddell (Image from The Argus, courtesy of Lee's Images)Breaking now; more to follow later: Neil McMillan has been found guilty of murdering Andrea Waddell and jailed for at least 22 years.

Via BBC News, Press Association and others:

A man has been found guilty of murdering a woman he visited for sex and setting fire to her Brighton flat.

Neil McMillan, 42, applied “unremitting pressure” to Andrea Waddell’s neck at her flat in Upper Lewes Road on 15 October last year.

[…]

Addressing McMillan, of Bennett Road, Brighton, after the verdict, Judge Michael Lawson QC said : “What you did that night brought to an end a life which in many views was one of relentless difficulty faced with extreme courage.”

“The person you killed was a person who always sought to overcome difficulties.”

“On the other hand, faced with a difficulty in that flat, whatever that was, you chose to take it out on her.

“You strangled her, with relentless pressure for over 20 seconds. There was the distinction between you and her.”

And he added: “Once you lost control, for whatever reason and which cannot be regarded as justified, you formed the intention to destroy her, to kill her.”

“It wasn’t an accident and you continued to hold her round her neck, crushing the neck structures until she was dead.”

“Having done that you then dragged her back into the bedroom and set fire to her and set fire to the bed on which together you had laid.”

“The reason was that you were frightened that there would be some trace of your presence in that flat to prove that in fact you were the last person to have seen her.”

[…]

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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia and The F-Word

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Andrea Waddell: murder trial update – jury retires (4 June 2010)

June 4, 2010

Via The Argus:

Andrea Waddell (image via The Argus)The jury in a sex worker murder case is expected to retire today to consider its verdict.

Neil McMillan, 42, is accused of strangling 29-year-old […] Andrea Waddell at her home in Upper Lewes Road, Brighton, before setting fire to her flat on October 15 last year.

Ms Waddell […] used the Adult Work website, which McMillan is alleged to have visited regularly.

TV satellite installer McMillan, of Bennett Road, Brighton, denies murder and arson with intent to endanger life.

ETA: There’s a little more context in Lynn News’ report:

[…] McMillan, 42, is alleged to have applied “unremitting pressure” to 29-year-old Ms Waddell’s neck for about 20 seconds while he was in a “worked up and angry mood” on October 15 last year.

Jurors were asked to consider whether he killed her after discovering she was transgender or because she had been unable, through her physical problems, to perform sexually for him.

Lewes Crown Court heard that he went to his own nearby home afterwards to shower and wash his clothes in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Prosecutor Simon Russell Flint QC said that earlier, when he arrived at Ms Waddell’s flat at about 10.30pm, he had drunk about seven pints of beer during the previous four hours.

He spouted expletives during the taxi ride to her home, telling the driver that all people in Cork, Ireland, were a “bunch of c****”.

Mr Russell Flint said: “It was in that mood, with those parting words, that he went up the stairs to Andrea Waddell’s flat and within an hour she was dead.” […]

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