British police (file photo) / Ethan Wilkinson / Unsplash (CC0)
CNA Newsroom, Oct 13, 2022 / 09:07 am (CNA).
A British Catholic mother of five, who was arrested at her family home while making roasted chicken, said that she believes Catholics are a “soft target” for the police.
It was approaching dinnertime on Monday, Oct. 3, and Catholic commentator Caroline Farrow was roasting chicken and putting the laundry away when suddenly the police knocked on the door of her home in Guildford, West Surrey, and arrested her for malicious communications and harassment in relation to a long-running online debate she had regarding transgender issues, she said.
Farrow told CNA that after the police officers entered her house, they seized her electronic devices, including her phone and her daughter’s iPad, and then proceeded to take her to the police station. She waited in a cell for three hours before they conducted a two-hour interview. Then she was released. She told CNA she has not been formally charged as of yet.
Farrow, 48, said the experience of being arrested “felt like a case of mistaken identity.” She said she kissed the cross on her necklace before police removed it from her neck. They also took her watch and shoelaces and checked under her socks for drugs, she said.
“One minute I am cooking a roast chicken and putting the laundry away and the next thing I know, they’re checking my socks for drugs,” she said.
How it finished. Being frisked and whisked off to be taken to the cells and shown some memes posted by someone else. pic.twitter.com/dC8GVD6Vra
— Caroline Farrow (@CF_Farrow) October 4, 2022
The Surrey Police Department said in a statement issued Oct. 4 that the arrest was “part of an investigation into allegations of malicious communications (sending of indecent, grossly offensive messages, threats, or information) and harassment.” The police provided no further details about the alleged messages beyond describing the content as “grossly offensive.”
Farrow, who is married to a Catholic priest — a former Anglican vicar who converted to Catholicism — told CNA: “As far as the police are concerned, my Catholicism makes me a soft target, and they automatically infer a level of guilt on me. The police have been ideologically captured by LGBTQ lobby groups, prioritizing and putting too much emphasis on perceived hate crime.”
She continued: “Women like me are low-hanging fruit … gender-critical women — people who speak out against the transgender lobby — it’s very easy to come round to my house and arrest me in order to boost crime-solving rates.”
CNA submitted a written request to Surrey Police Thursday to respond to Farrow’s comments but no response was received prior to the time of publication.
In the Oct. 4 police statement, Temporary Detective Chief Inspector David Bentley said the police acted appropriately.
“There is significant commentary on social media around the perceived circumstances behind this investigation. We do not have the freedom of detailing every stage of our inquiries or the specifics of an allegation on social media as it is critical we do not pre-empt or prejudice any future proceedings at any stage,” he said.
“When we receive an allegation of a crime, in this instance one where a grossly offensive message is said to have been communicated, it is our job to assess it alongside any available evidence to identify if an offence has been committed. If it has, we gather further evidence and carry out an investigation to prove or disprove the allegation. That is exactly the process that is being followed in this case,” Bentley said.
“The investigation into these allegations is very much ongoing and the relevant inquiries are being carried out. We have a duty to protect the integrity of an investigation, so we will not be providing a running commentary on this case,” he concluded.
Among the allegations is the claim that Farrow posted other material under a pseudonym account, which she strongly denies, telling CNA that she was playing the organ at Sunday Mass when some of the offensive comments were posted.
When asked by CNA if she would do anything differently following the arrest, Farrow said: “I refuse to shy away from critiquing gender ideology.”
“Given that I was arrested and had my devices seized because of the social media posts of a third party, it’s clear that taking a different tack won’t protect me from malicious reports.”
Farrow is campaign director for the internet activism organization CitizenGO. CitizenGO is a “community of active citizens who work together, using online petitions and action alerts as a resource, to defend and promote life, family, and liberty,” its website states. The organization has an online petition demanding an inquiry into the police’s actions.
The organization’s website states: “It should terrify us all that the police can simply take someone’s word for something, storm into your house and arrest you like this.”
“Surrey Police, and those who called for Caroline’s arrest, should be ashamed of such a forceful, disgraceful, and unnecessary intrusion and MUST be held accountable — she needs all of our support now, more than ever.”
The petition demands an inquiry into the actions of the Surrey Police Department, saying the authorities ”have deprived Caroline of her liberty in such an undignified way, and an investigation into the complaint history of her accuser.”
The petition has more than 57,000 signatures.