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30 Apr, 2021 13:24

1st serving UK officer jailed for terrorism offence over membership of banned neo-Nazi group

1st serving UK officer jailed for terrorism offence over membership of banned neo-Nazi group

22-year-old Benjamin Hannam has been sentenced to four years and four months in prison after becoming the first UK police officer to be convicted of a terrorism offence over his membership of a banned neo-Nazi group.

The now-former Met Police officer had been a member of National Action (NA), an outlawed neo-Nazi group in the United Kingdom, prior to joining the police force, with footage showing him spraying the group’s logo on a wall weeks before submitting his application to join the force.

Hannam was found guilty on April 1 of two counts of fraud, for lying on his police application about his membership of an outlawed far-right group, and two counts of possessing documents useful to a terrorist, including the ‘manifesto’ of Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in a 2011 extremist attack in Norway.

He was able to join the Metropolitan Police in July 2017, beginning training in March 2018 and passing out in 2019, clearing the vetting checks required during the application process. Hannam’s membership of the group was exposed when data from a far-right forum was leaked online by an anti-fascist group.

Following his conviction, Hannam was formally dismissed from the Metropolitan Police force, having been suspended from duty while the trial was ongoing.

Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball accepted that the trial had “harmed public confidence” in both UK policing and, specifically, the Metropolitan Police. However, the Met has previously defended hiring Hannam, claiming that the organisation “acted very swiftly” after identifying his previous membership of a banned group. 

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In 2016, NA became the first far-right group outlawed in the UK by then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who used the powers provided by the Terrorism Act 2000 to tackle groups believed to be “concerned in terrorism.”

Reporting on the case had initially been prohibited during the trial, but media restrictions were lifted after Hannam pleaded guilty to separate charges of possessing indecent images of an underage individual.

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