Met PC found guilty of neo-Nazi group membership

A Met Police officer has been convicted of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi terrorist organisation.

Benjamin Hannam, of Enfield, north London, was found guilty of membership of the banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA).

He was also convicted of lying on his Met Police application and having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

Hannam is the first British officer to be convicted of a terrorism offence.

He was released on conditional bail ahead of sentencing on 23 April.

At the Old Bailey, Judge Anthony Leonard QC lifted a ban on reporting the case after the 22-year-old admitted possessing an indecent image of a child, which was to have been the subject of a separate trial.

The PC had been working as a probationary officer for the Met for nearly two years before he was found on a leaked database of users of extreme right-wing forum Iron March.

He had signed up to the forum when he joined the London branch of neo-Nazi group NA in March 2016.

Jurors were shown a video of the PC spraying the group’s symbol on a derelict building in 2017

Following his arrest in March last year, officers discovered a NA business card and badges, as well as writings about his involvement with the group.

Jurors were told that on the day the group was banned in December 2016, Hannam had transferred the knife-fighting manual from his computer to folder named “NA” on a memory stick along with other extremist texts.

Detectives also found he was in possession of multiple prohibited images including “pseudo images” of young boys and girls.

Hannam was filmed taking part in a boxing session for members of the banned group

Jurors convicted him of remaining in NA for several months after it was banned in December 2016, as well as two counts of fraud for lying about his far-right past in a Met application form.

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds said the fraud was “intimately connected” to Hannam’s membership of the outlawed group.

Hannam had denied all the offences, telling the court he had never been a member of NA despite regularly attending group meetings.

He claimed that he was interested by the “look and aesthetic of fascism”, but that he was not a racist and had actually challenged group members when they expressed such views.

The officer said he had been “desperate to impress” an older NA organiser and his association with the group ended before he began working for the Met.

Officers found a National Action business card and badges in Hannam’s bedroom

The court heard that Hannam was part of a successor version of the extremist group called NS131 – which was itself outlawed in September 2017 – and that he appeared in its online videos spray-painting neo-Nazi logos.

He had joined the Met in 2018 and during his training was actually shown videos relating to NA.

He passed out early in 2019 but was identified on the neo-Nazi web forum by detectives.

It can now be reported that, soon after he joined the Met, Hannam was found to have committed gross misconduct after he was found using a young relative’s travel card to use public transport for free.

Scotland Yard said it had reviewed Hannam’s time in the Met and found no evidence his actions had been influenced by any extremist ideology.

He is currently suspended from duty.

The 22-year-old had denied all the offences

After the jury returned their verdict, the judge said Hannam had been “convicted of serious offences” and was being bailed as a “courtesy”.

Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Hannam’s “lies have caught up with him and he’s been exposed as an individual with deeply racist beliefs”.

“Benjamin Hannam would not have got a job as a probationary police constable if he’d told the truth about his membership of a banned, far-right group,” she added.

Cdr Richard Smith, of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said “the public expect police officers to carry out their duties with the very highest levels of honesty and integrity.

“Sadly, PC Hannam showed none of these qualities.”

BBC News

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