High-profile barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman has welcomed the dismissal of a police inspector who sent her and other women malicious and abusive tweets – and contrasted the action with the approach of the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
Last month, Nottinghamshire Police dismissed Inspector Philip Grimwade for gross misconduct after a hearing found that he breached the standards of professional behaviour.
Chief Constable Kate Meynell, who chaired the hearing, said: “The officer sent derogatory, offensive, discriminatory and abusive comments on Twitter over a period of time from December 2017 until January 2023.
“This is at a time when policing is under considerable national scrutiny through high-profile cases where there has been a failing to prevent or protect women and girls from abuse and violence…
“The officer’s conduct was intentional, deliberate and targeted and occurred over a period of years. It was repeated and sustained behaviour. It was or should have been apparent to him that this would cause personal distress to the individuals involved and to the reputation of Nottinghamshire Police and wider policing.”
Mr Grimwade said he originally set up his Twitter account to shine a light on the good work of the force but had lost focus, perspective and manners over time. He denied having misogynistic views and was deeply remorseful for what he did.
Dr Proudman wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he had sent “misogynistic and abusive” tweets to her, including calling her a “vile narcissist”.
“[The women he targeted] are women with feminist views who publicly challenge the institutional misogyny that enables perpetrators in powers to abuse others with impunity. Women who speak out often suffer the same abuse as the victims we champion.”
She said she had also suffered “relentless abuse and misogyny from my colleagues, primarily male barristers”.
Having praised the chief constable for her approach to the case, Dr Proudman described as “appalling” the BSB’s failure to take action against barristers “for calling me a c***, vile, narcissist, etc”.
She explained: “Whilst the BSB described this language as ‘unhelpful’, the police regarded similarly gendered language to constitute gross misconduct. There is clearly an inconsistent approach between the police who are trying to take misogyny seriously and the barrister’s [sic] regulatory body who do not.”
Last month, she revealed that the BSB had decided to take no action on her complaints about tweets from over 50 barristers, saying that “despite acknowledging their posts as ‘unpleasant and inflammatory’, the BSB said they did not meet the threshold for regulatory action”.
When approached by Legal Futures, the BSB had no comment.
Meanwhile, it was reported last week that a man was cleared by Mold Crown Court of sending Dr Proudman tweets that contained threatening language and posting images that the prosecution said were intended to harass her and fear violence would be used against her.
But he was made subject to a restraining order and also convicted of possessing a knife when he went to a police station to be questioned.
In one tweet, according to the Daily Mail, ex-soldier David Mottershead – who styled himself as a men’s rights activist – posted a picture of himself holding a gun, with his face smeared in camouflage paint and his finger on the trigger, telling Dr Proudman: “You’ll panic as I inhale your last breath.”
He also made videos encouraging people to complain about her to the Bar Standards Board and the Cambridge University, where she is a research associate.
The defence said Mr Mottershead did not direct the messages specifically at the lawyer.
In a statement, Dr Proudman criticised the lack of special measures offered to her, “leaving this man able to see me while I gave evidence on a remote link, which made me feel panicked”.
She added that she only heard about the restraining order from the media, not the Crown Prosecution Service.