Joanna Cherry to defend woman accused of 'transphobic tweets' in court

A high-profile SNP MP is set to return to the bar “on a limited basis” to defend Marion Millar, a woman charged with malicious communication after allegedly posting “homophobic and transphobic” messages on social media.

Joanna Cherry QC has revealed she has accepted instructions through the lawyers representing Ms Millar, who has been charged by police with offences under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 over her social media activity in 2019.

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Woman is charged with malicious communication over 'transphobic' tweet

Ms Millar, an accountant from Airdrie, had retweeted an image of a bow of ribbons in the Suffragette colours of green, white and purple tied around a tree outside the BBC studio where River City is filmed.

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SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC is to return to the bar.SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC is to return to the bar.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC is to return to the bar.

It is understood Police Scotland received a complaint about the image on the basis the ribbons represented a noose. Other complaints regarding Ms Millar’s tweets have not yet been made public.

The 50-year-old has now been scheduled to appear in Glasgow Sheriff Court next month.

Ms Cherry, who will return to Arnot Manderson Advocates, said that as she no longer had front bench duties for the SNP in Westminster, she would take on “human rights and public law cases from time to time as my duties as a constituency MP allow”.

She said she had been granted permission to practise by the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Roddy Dunlop QC.

“I am grateful to the dean of Faculty for granting me a dean’s dispensation to reflect the fact that my availability to be instructed will necessarily be limited by the requirement to be at Westminster regularly and to fulfil my duties to my constituents,” she said.

"In this respect I will be following in the tradition of fellow members of the Faculty of Advocates, including John Smith and Menzies Campbell, who combined the occasional practice of law with their duties as MPs.”

Ms Cherry added: "I remain very committed to the law as an important instrument for upholding human rights and preventing discrimination and I am sure that there will be a synergy between the cases I take on and the values I have championed in elected politics, particularly respect for human rights, equality and the rule of law.”

The MP has been at the forefront of a bitter row within the SNP about the impact on women’s rights on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

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She had been the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for home affairs and justice, but was removed from her role in February after a week of intense internal strife within the SNP on the divisive issue of a conflict between women’s rights and the extension of rights for trans people.

Ms Cherry also quit the party’s NEC in May, claiming “a number of factors” had prevented her from “fulfilling the mandate party members gave to me”.

The revelation that she was returning to the bar came as a group of women protested outside the Scottish Parliament during First Minister’s Questions.

Dressed in costumes of the female characters in Margaret Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale, the women said they were “protesting against Nicola Sturgeon’s policy program” which the claimed is “detrimental to the rights and safety of women and girls.”

They accused the Scottish Government of creating a “hostile environment” for women who do not support GRA changes.

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