Former SNP equalities officer who wanted to ‘beat up terfs’ convicted of sexual assault

Cameron Downing pictured with Nicola Sturgeon
Cameron Downing pictured with Nicola Sturgeon - UGC

A former SNP equalities officer who told how he wanted to “beat the f***” out of gender critical feminists has been convicted of sexually assaulting six young adults.

Cameron Downing, who was an official in the SNP’s London branch, preyed on multiple victims and threatened to make rape allegations against one man if he refused sexual contact with him, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

The 24-year-old, who identifies as non-binary, has been pictured at an SNP conference with former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and took part in a Pride March alongside Karen Adam, the SNP MSP and convenor of Holyrood’s equalities committee.

His conduct online has been criticised by JK Rowling, after he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that he wanted to “beat the f*** out of some terfs and transphobes”. He also tweeted “I f****** hate terfs and transphobes with such a passion.”

Police Scotland launched a probe into Downing and discovered that he had preyed on victims across Scotland in a course of conduct that began when he was only 16.

They found that he “repeatedly blackmailed” one of the men he assaulted, telling him he’d make an allegation to the police about how he had been raped by the man.

A female victim, now 24, told how he had made abusive comments to her at a New Year Party in 2018 about her weight, which caused her to get drunk and become sick.

She said Downing then took her upstairs, persuaded her to get undressed so she could shower, then woke up with bruises she believed he had caused.

Battling mental health problems

He had denied wrongdoing, saying in evidence that he had been battling “complex” mental health problems.

However, on Friday afternoon, after two days of deliberations, jurors found Downing, of Willowbrae, Edinburgh, guilty on charges of sexual and physical assault.

Judge Alison Stirling remanded Downing in custody, rejecting his lawyer’s application for bail.

She told him: “Your status has changed.  I will adjourn sentence to obtain a criminal justice social work report and you will be remanded in custody.”

Downing is a former drama student who has acted in Edinburgh Fringe productions. He also worked as an NHS contact tracer during the pandemic.

In response to his tweets about “terfs”, Harry Potter author Rowling tweeted in October 2022: “Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland: A place where an equalities officer feels free to declare in public how much he wants to beat up non-compliant women.”

Terf is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a slur for women such as Rowling who do not believe that men who claim to identify as women are literally female, and want to protect single-sex spaces.

Victim felt trapped and terrified

A victim told the jury how Downing had left him feeling “trapped” and “terrified” after he made the threat of a false rape allegation.

The man, now 22, said how Downing had threatened to also tell his friends, family and employer that he was a rapist.

The jury was also shown messages that Downing sent to the victim. One read: “I don’t care if you’re not ready – make yourself ready.”

Another message showed how Downing wanted his victim to continue having sex with him.

It read: “You should want that with all of your f****** being because the alternative is losing me from your life and most likely facing a court case for RAPING me.”

Speaking about the abuse she suffered, a female witness said: “He would touch me inappropriately, like groping. It was mostly my breasts that he would touch, maybe some groping elsewhere. A lot of it I have filtered out.”

Following conviction, Downing was placed in handcuffs and taken to the cells of the High Court. He turned to family members who sat in the court’s public benches and said: “I love you.”

Downing will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on July 16.