Sarah Jane Baker: Protest held for ‘political prisoner’ held in men’s jail
Author: Chantelle Billson
Campaigners supporting “political prisoner” Sarah Jane Baker have gathered outside a London court to protest in support of the trans activist who is being held in a men’s prison over an anti-TERF speech given at London Trans+ Pride this summer.
On Thursday (17 August) at around 10am, ‘Free Sarah Jane Baker’ campaigners assembled outside Westminster Magistrates Court to call for the trans activist’s freedom.
Having previously served 30 years of a life sentence for violent crime, Baker was recalled to jail on 12 July for breaching the terms of her license, after she gave a speech at the Pride event on 8 July, stating: “If you see a TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist], punch them in the f**king face.”
She was charged under section 4a of the Public Order Act, which states that a person is guilty of an offence if “[the individual] uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour”.
Baker, who is currently detained at Wandsworth Prison for men, was due to attend her case meeting via video link at the same time, but was unable to due to “farcical” organisation by the court, her partner of nearly three years, Anita Downs – who attended the meeting – told PinkNews.
Following the event, a Metropolitan Police (Met) officer initially stated that Baker’s call for violence was “hypothetical” and the case was closed with no further action.
But shortly after, the Met confirmed it had reopened an investigation and that “enquiries remain ongoing”, with home secretary Suella Braverman thanking the force for reinvestigating the incident.
Campaigners have argued that it was “hypocritical” to have Baker arrested when anti-trans individuals have made similar claims about trans women.
Baker was released on parole in 2019 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for kidnapping and torturing her stepmother’s brother in the late 1980s and later attempting to murder a child rapist while in prison.
She has never served any jail time in a women’s facility.
Anita Downs, who is a nurse with the NHS and leads the ‘Free Sarah Jane Baker’ campaign, told PinkNews she feels her partner is a “political prisoner”.
“This has happened because of the UK’s political issues and that the government is raging a culture war against trans people who are some of the most oppressed people in society today.”
Downs called the situation “sad”, owing to the fact “since she’s been released she’s been doing really well”.
Speaking of Baker’s experience in the men’s prison so far, Downs said she’s “finding it really difficult”.
“It’s a jail with a high rate of suicide and she’s been housed on the vulnerable prisoners wing where most of the people are sex offenders.”
She claims the prison have “very little care for people who have mental health issues and they don’t have ‘time’ to put people on suicide watch”.
In 2022, the Ministry of Justice released data which showed HMP Wandsworth was one of the worst prisons in England and Wales for self-inflicted and non self-inflicted deaths.
“She’s saying she’s being inappropriately touched when out of her cell and she faces a lot of transphobia and people are putting hostile newspaper articles under her cell door,” Downs claimed.
PinkNews has contacted HMP Wandsworth for comment on these allegations.
Downs said her partner, who she described as “really loving, kind and generous”, has also been refused access to women’s clothing and has been unable to shower as its not safe for her to go into the communal showers.
A trans protester who wished to be known only as Awlpiko, told PinkNews: “We want nothing more than to exist and be allowed to live.”
She said that Baker being held in a male prison is wrong, adding: “She’s a trans woman being criticised for defending herself.
“What she is currently in custody for has nothing to do with what she was previously in jail for and I think she should have a fair trial before she’s in custody for it.”
Ai, who knows Baker from time spent together volunteering with the Museum of Transology, told PinkNews it’s important to attend her protests so that “political parties don’t get to have final say over what the police and parole boards decide, which it heavily looks like is the case in this situation”.
IV, who first encountered Baker at the London vigil for murdered teenager Brianna Ghey, told PinkNews: “She’s someone who’s extremely vulnerable and they’re making an example of an already traumatised and vulnerable person.
“The government is stooping as low as they can these days.”
Another protester, John, told PinkNews: “Sarah is someone who has suffered immensely under the system already. She has reason to have anger towards it and on a protest, where people’s rage are exemplified, people say things.”
He added that people who campaign against trans rights say things “so much worse”.
“It’s despicable and horrific and we need this campaign to support and free her. It’s complete injustice.”
Baker could face life behind bars, lawyer says
Criminal lawyer at Brett Wilson, Nick Brett, told PinkNews there is a possibility that Baker could spend life behind bars after the recall to prison after reoffending on her license.
He said the likelihood “is subject to a decision by the Parole Board based predominantly on risk to the public”.
He added: “Where the original sentence was a life sentence this means that technically the person recalled may never be released although that would be dependent on numerous factors regarding the seriousness of the reoffending.”
Baker’s case is set to begin on 31 August.
Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Chantelle Billson