Four years in prison for first police officer convicted of membership of far-right terrorist group
A police officer found guilty of being a member of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action has been jailed for four years and four months.
Benjamin Hannam, a 22-year-old from Edmonton in North London, has now been fired from by the Metropolitan Police for gross misconduct following his conviction earlier this month. Last year, it was alleged that he belonged or professed to belong to the proscribed group National Action between December 2016 and January 2018 and that he falsely represented himself in his application to join the Metropolitan Police in this connection.
With his conviction at the beginning of April, Mr Hannam became the first police officer to be convicted of far-right terrorism after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of membership in National Action, lying on his application to join the police and possessing guides to knife-fighting and bombmaking. It is understood that the ban on reporting the case was lifted after Mr Hannam admitted possessing an indecent image of a child.
Mr Hannam, who reportedly has autism, was apparently “desperate to impress” an older National Action organiser who gave him free stickers, but he ended his association with the organisation before he joined the Metropolitan Police.
Sentencing Mr Hannam at the Old Bailey today, Judge Anthony Leonard QC told him that “I consider what you did to be very serious and you have harmed public trust in the police by your deceit”, as he sentenced Mr Hannam to four years and four months in prison.
The Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, which carried out the investigation, emphasised earlier this month that there is no evidence that Mr Hannam abused his position at the police force to further his far-right views.
Mr Hannam had denied being a member of National Action before or after it was proscribed, and told the court that he had been attracted to fascism aged sixteen because of its artwork and propaganda and was under the impression that it was a youth network. He denied engaging in any stickering or propaganda campaigns and insisted that he only attended social events.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “National Action was proscribed as a terrorist organisation at our behest because it poses a considerable threat. Its members are indoctrinated to kill and instructed in the use of weapons. Benjamin Hannam posed as someone who would protect the public, when in fact he was a member of a dangerous far-right terrorist organisation, in possession of knife fighting and bomb-making manuals, as well as disturbing sexual images of a child.
“We applaud Counter Terrorism Command for its investigation of this very troubling case, as well as the CPS for prosecuting it and the court for delivering an appropriate sentence. Public confidence in the police depends on holding officers to a high standard and zero tolerance of far-right or neo-Nazi infiltration. The verdict and sentence in this disturbing case sends exactly the right message.”
Other members of National Action were recently convicted and sentenced to prison for their role in the organisation.
National Action was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in December 2016 following a long campaign by Campaign Against Antisemitism and others. Under section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000, membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation is a criminal offence.
Image credit: Metropolitan Police