Home secretary Suella Braverman accuses police of ‘denying biology’ in bitter trans prisoner row

Suella Braverman wears a pink-red outfit as she smiles at someone off camera

Sussex Police has apologised after Suella Braverman accused the force of “playing identity politics” amid a row over a trans woman who was jailed for sexually abusing children before she transitioned.

The home secretary intervened after a dispute erupted online about Sally Ann Dixon, who was jailed for 20 years, having been convicted of 30 indecent assaults.

The crimes were against five girls and two boys between 1989 and 1996. The 58-year-old, sentenced on 8 September, transitioned to female in 2004, Sussex Police said. 

The row broke out when some gender-critical voices on social media objected to police referring to Dixon as a “woman convicted of historic offences against children” in its press release. 

Sussex Police initially responded to the remarks in a now-deleted tweet that it does not “tolerate any hateful comments towards their gender identity regardless of crimes committed”, adding this is “irrelevant to the crime that has been committed and investigated”.

But Suella Braverman intervened on Twitter and accused Sussex Police of “playing identity politics and denying biology”.

Sussex Police released a statement a few hours later and apologised for how it responded to people sharing their gender-critical views about the conviction. 

The police said it “reported factually on the findings of the court” that, at the time of the offences, Dixon was “living as a man”. Law enforcement said the “relevant offences were recorded as being committed by a male”.

“An earlier reply to a comment on Twitter was inconsistent with our usual style of engagement; we apologise for this and have removed the comment,” Sussex Police said.

“We recognise the rights of the public to express themselves freely within the boundaries of the law.”

Suella Braverman thanked the police for their “swift apology” and “retraction”. She added the “best” police officers “focus on solving crimes and supporting victims” instead of “political correctness”.

Dixon, who will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order indefinitely, was also found not guilty of four further indecent assaults. 

‘Terrible and distressing’ offences

Sussex Police detective constable Amy Pooley, of the force’s complex abuse unit, said Dixon came to know “these vulnerable young children successively through family connections” and used “trusted access to systematically abuse each of them for sexual gratification, in some cases for several months at a time”.

“Only when one of the victims eventually came to us in 2019 was the terrible and distressing nature of Dixon’s offending over many years finally uncovered.”

“As one victim escaped this predatory interest, another would take their place, but sometimes some victims would be offended against simultaneously.”

Suella Braverman wears a white and grey outfit as she walks out a doorway

Suella Braverman has made multiple anti-trans comments in the past, including that she believes there is a “collective frenzy” over trans rights in the UK. (Getty)

During her previous government role as the UK’s attorney general, Braverman said teachers have no legal requirement to support trans and non-binary students by letting them use the toilets or wear uniforms that align with their gender. 

She also criticised schools’ “unquestioning approach” to trans youth and said educational institutions should take a “much firmer line” by treating trans students as the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Braverman said she believed there is a “rights culture” which has “spun out of control” in the UK and “collective frenzy” over trans rights meant the “basics of biology” have been “turned upside down”.

She claimed in a speech before the Policy Exchange in August that schools in the UK could be “indoctrinating children”, and that “misinformed” teachers are “socially transitioning” pupils.

When she entered this year’s Tory leadership race to replace Boris Johnson, she said Britain needs to “get rid of all this woke rubbish” and make the UK a safe place for people to share anti-trans views.