JK Rowling: Harry Potter author issues police warning over accusations of misgendering broadcaster India Willoughby

Author JK Rowling and broadcaster India Willoughby have exchanged a war of words

Author JK Rowling has said the “police are going to be very busy” amid accusations she misgendered broadcaster India Willoughby.

In an interview with Byline TV, Willoughby, 58, a trans woman and broadcaster, told journalist Caolan Robertson that she had reported the Harry Potter author to the police for calling her a man.

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Following the release of the filmed interview, Rowling, 58, said Willoughby appeared to have forgotten the Forstater ruling, which “established that gender critical views can be protected in law”.

Harry Potter and Strike author JK Rowling. Picture: Getty ImagesHarry Potter and Strike author JK Rowling. Picture: Getty Images
Harry Potter and Strike author JK Rowling. Picture: Getty Images

Maya Forstater successfully brought a case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) to establish that gender-critical views are a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 in 2021.

Rowling later reposted a clip of Robertson in which he said he had contacted the author for an interview as well. She accused the journalist of calling Willoughby “him” twice in the video. The captions refer to Willoughby as “them” and Robertson has refuted Rowling’s claims.

Rowling also said in the post: “Extraordinary … the police are going to be very busy.”

On Sunday, the Harry Potter writer posted a criticism of trans women being allowed into women’s changing rooms on X. In the thread she spoke about Willoughby and said: “India didn’t become a woman. India is cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is.”

In the interview with Byline TV, Willoughby said of the posts: “JK Rowling has definitely committed a crime. I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman and she calls me a man.

“It’s a protected characteristic. And that is a breach of both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act. She’s tweeted that out to 14 million followers.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, a person cannot discriminate against another because of a protected characteristic, such as gender reassignment.

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The police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have both agreed the definition for identifying hate crimes includes a criminal offence that is perceived by the victim, or another, to be “motivated by hostility or prejudice,” based on a person’s “transgender identity or perceived transgender identity.”

Willoughby added: “Well, I’ve been to the police and I’ve reported it as an issue. I contacted Northumbria Constabulary yesterday.”

She added: “I have reported JK Rowling to the police for what she said. I don’t know if that’s going to be treated as a hate crime, malicious communications, but it’s a cut-and-dry offence as far as I’m concerned.

“And at the end of the day, it is a hate crime. Transgender identity is a protected characteristic, just as race is, just as sexuality is.

“I have reported JK Rowling to the police for what she said. And the equivalent of what JK Rowling said, calling a trans person a man deliberately … I am legally recognised as a woman and for JK Rowling to deliberately, and that is the key word, misgender me knowing who I am is grossly offensive.

“It is a hate crime and it should be treated just as somebody calling a black person the N-word or an Asian person the P-word.”

Rowling has claimed she was advised previously she had a legal case against Willoughby for defamation and added there was no law compelling her to refer to the TV personality as a woman.

She said on X: “Some time ago, lawyers advised me that not only did I have a clearly winnable case against India Willoughby for defamation, but that India’s obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment.”

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The author added: “No law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman. Aware as I am that it’s an offence to lie to law enforcement, I’ll simply have to explain to the police that, in my view, India is a classic example of the male narcissist who lives in a state of perpetual rage that he can’t compel women to take him at his own valuation.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “On Monday, March 4, we received a complaint about a post on social media. We are currently awaiting to speak to the complainant further.”

Downing Street declined to comment on the row, saying decisions were up to “operationally independent” police forces.

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