A man charged with stirring up racial hatred with an antisemitic coronavirus hoax is understood to have appeared in court wearing a Nazi armband.
Matthew Henegan, 35, faces seven charges of publishing, distributing and possessing material in March and April that is likely to stir up racial hatred. It is also claimed that he distributed leaflets in Cambridgeshire, where he resides, and possessing a document titled “How To Make Armour Piercing Bullets”, which apparently contains information likely to be useful in terrorism.
Mr Henegan is currently on bail and reportedly appeared at a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey wearing dark glasses, a hairband and an armband with a red swastika.
According to a report, the judge asked the defendant’s lawyer: “Can you see what he’s wearing?”, and ordered Mr Henegan to leave the courtroom. The defendant asked: “Are we done for the day then?” The judge replied: “We are not.” The defendant replied: “I have a right to freedom of expression, freedom of dress, freedom of religion. They are rights not for debate.” The judge instructed the lawyer to give his client advice and said: “Next time it will not be out in the public corridor.” Mr Henegan returned to the courtroom with a jacket, with the armband no longer visible.
A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for 12th March and a provisional trial date at the Old Bailey for 8th November. The defendant remains on bail.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has been monitoring and acting against the threat from the far-right for years, continues to urge the Jewish community to remain vigilant and welcomes the seriousness with which the authorities are treating the danger.