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Transgender lawyer sues Father Ted creator for allegedly publishing tweets containing her former male name

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It is understood to be UK’s first ‘deadnaming’ case

Stephanie Hayden Graham Linehan solicitor high court sued
Stephanie Hayden and Graham Linehan

A transgender lawyer has filed a High Court claim against the creator of Father Ted after he allegedly referred to her on social media by her former male name.

Stephanie Hayden, a male-to-female transgender woman, is suing Graham Linehan, the co-writer of the popular British sitcom, for defamation and harassment after he allegedly published a series of tweets “deliberately misgendering” her.

Hayden claims Linehan’s alleged actions amounted to “deadnaming”, a known method of “abusing those who identify as transgender”, according to court documents filed last week. Legal Cheek understands this is the first time a claim of this nature has been brought in a UK court.

Hayden, who describes herself on Twitter as a lawyer and current affairs commentator, claims Linehan “caused her distress” and that his actions were a “gross affront to her dignity as a woman”.

Linehan is alleged to have made a number of defamatory tweets between the 26 September and 28 Setempber of this year. In one, Dublin-born Linehan reportedly wrote: “I don’t respect the pronouns of misogynists, stalkers of harassers”. In another, the comedy writer allegedly said: “Yes we must always be nice to con men, sexual predators and misogynists hijacking a noble movement for their own ends.”

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Hayden, a former legal executive, was born Anthony Halliday and began her transition to a woman in 2007. She was awarded her Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) earlier this year and is now legally female. Meanwhile, Linehan created or co-created shows including Black Books, The IT Crowd and Big Train, and has nearly 700,000 followers on Twitter. His account is now protected.

The court documents also reference a recent interview Linehan gave to The Times newspaper, in which the 50-year-old described Hayden as “a dangerous troll” who disclosed details about his wife’s business on Twitter to “shut me up”.

Hayden told Legal Cheek: “A GRC holder has a right to confidentiality in respect of their previous gender identity. If a person acts in an official capacity and discloses such information it is actually a criminal offence under s.22 Gender Recognition Act 2004.” She continued:

“What I say happened in this case is that a celebrity used his huge Twitter following to effectively ‘out’ who I used to be to a global audience… ‘Deadnaming’ as it is called is a recognised method of harassing and abusing transgender people. My claim is about drawing a line in the sand and making clear that these practices will no longer be tolerated.”

News of the legal action follows reports that Linehan has been handed verbal harassment warning by police after Hayden issued a formal complaint. Linehan was told by West Yorkshire police not to contact the transgender activist after their bust-up on Twitter.

Linehan said he would speak to his lawyer today about potentially taking legal action against Hayden. He told The Guardian newspaper:

“The police asked me to stop contacting someone I had no intention of contacting. It was a bit like asking me to never contact Charlie Sheen. I will call all of my trans friends ‘she’. I think of them as women, they are respectful and are not misogynists. But I refuse to respect the pronouns of misogynists.”

Legal Cheek has approached Linehan for comment.

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26 Comments

Anonymous

Down with this sort of thing

(56)(1)

Anonymous

Word.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Careful now.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

This would be an ecumenical matter.

(26)(1)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

underrated comment

(3)(0)

Anonymous

ROF story for the last 2 weeks. Not sure it is as legally significant as supposed here.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

“Hayden, a former legal executive, was born Anthony Halliday…”

Better edit that or you’ll be added as a defendant, LC!

(61)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(0)

Surprised but logical

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

‘popular british sitcom’?????????????????

(2)(11)

Anonymous

Come on LC, why delete so many posts without trace shortly after they’re posted?

At least if you left a “this comment has been deleted” post then we could see how many posters have “unacceptable” views about this sort of thing and we could get an idea of the scale of the debate (even though we can’t hear the debate because some activists have decided that a debate is not acceptable).

(25)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

That’s better, LC!

(11)(0)

Anonymous

I do wish people would stop assuming that we have free speech in this country.

We never have and never will.

What we have always had is regulated speech within certain parameters.

Sometimes those parameters have changed, but there has never, in British history, been a time when speech has been completely free.

There has never been a time when anyone could say absolutely anything without risk of sanction.

What is particularly scary now is that biological truths can be “wrong” or “offensive”.

That is very 2 + 2 = 5

(34)(9)

Anonymous

Deadnaming. Ridiculous term.

(42)(3)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I feel like a three year old Russian refrigerator today.

(3)(0)

John

Hexplain?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Please answer me why it is unacceptable to post a post that says that a person with a penis is a man?

Surely this sort of thing should be up for debate?

(37)(6)

Anonymous

You need to get Woke, hater!

(4)(12)

PC Brigade

This is excellent news!

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Well? Are you going to debate the proposition or are you of the #nodebate position?

(2)(0)

Ziggy

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(16)(0)

Rusty Fiat Justitia

This looks like a vexatious claim, and Linehan should apply to strike the claim out. The claimant did not comply with the pre action protocol, and it is hard to see how she will surmount the serious hard threshold for a defamation claim. The alleged causes of action appear to include stating public information as to companies. Not a test case – a bit of vanity litigation.

(29)(3)

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