Special Branch inquiry led to student’s terror-related arrest

Ben John, 21, who is awaiting sentence, was said to have “white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology”

Ben John leaving Leicester Crown Court. (Image: Leicester Mercury / Chris Gordon)

A right-wing extremist student was caught with terrorist instructional material following an 11 month police Special Branch investigation.

Ben John, 21, was convicted of one count of possessing a document that could be useful to terrorists at Leicester Crown Court today.

After the unanimous verdict, Lincolnshire Police issued a statement reporting how a hard drive in John’s possession contained the Anarchy Cookbook Version 2000 – a radical publication originally circulated in the 1970’s containing diagrams and instructions on how to construct various explosive devices.

It is illegal to knowingly possess such material.

John, of Addison Drive, Lincoln, was a Criminology student at Leicester’s De Montfort University when he was arrested.

Computer devices were seized from his then flat in Saxby Street, Highfields, Leicester, and his computer devices seized, in January last year.

He has now been remanded into custody to await sentencing on August 31.

He was found not guilty of six similar charges, all of which he denied.

The police statement described John as having “white supremist and neo-Nazi ideology,” saying he had become part of the Extreme Right Wing (XRW) online.

The statement added: “John had a wealth of white supremist and anti-Semitic material, as well as material related to the Satanist organisation called the Order of Nine Angles (ONA), which is increasingly under the focus of law enforcement.

“The Extreme Right Wing (XRW) is the term for activists who commit criminal activity motivated by a political or cultural view point encompassing racism, extreme nationalism, fascism and Neo Nazism.

“He first came to attention of Prevent officers in May 2018 after penning a letter titled ‘Eternal Front – Lincolnshire Fascist Underground’.

“He was arrested as part of a pre-planned operation carried out by force Special Branch officers from Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands (CTP EM) on 7 January 2020.

“An 11 month investigation by Lincolnshire Police’s Special Branch, with assistance from the national counter terrorism network, led to him being charged in November 2020.”

The jury was told, during the trial, there was no suggestion that John was planning to act on the terror-related information, or do anything criminal with it – or he would have been charged with a more serious offence.

Judge Timothy Spencer QC commended the investigation, saying that he was “highly impressed”, and said the officers who conducted it are a “credit to their force”.

He added that he considered the defendant to be “a risk” to others.

The police statement continued: ” If someone has revealed to you a plan to harm others, or you know they hold information which could be used to plan or prepare for an act of terrorism, it is vital you report it as soon as possible. Suspicious activity can be reported to the police by calling confidentially on 0800 789 321 or visit act.campaign.gov.uk.”

A spokesperson for DMU said: “Ben John was a student at DMU from October 2019.

“As soon as we were made aware of his arrest in January 2020, he was suspended with immediate effect and remained suspended throughout the police investigation and subsequent trial.

“Now we have received the verdict we will conclude our disciplinary process.”

Leicester Mercury

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