Leicester Mercury

Met officer was a neo-Nazi member


A ROOKIE has become the first British police officer to be convicted of belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist organisati­on.

Pc Ben Hannam, 22, was found guilty of membership of banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) following a trial at the Old Bailey.

He was also convicted of lying on his applicatio­n and vetting forms to join the Metropolit­an Police and having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

A jury had deliberate­d for more than 32 hours to find Hannam guilty yesterday.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC lifted a ban on reporting the case after Hannam admitted possessing an indecent image of a child, which was to have been the subject of a separate trial.

Hannam, who gave away no reaction in the dock, was granted bail ahead of his sentencing on April 23 but warned by the judge that he faced jail.

Hannam had been working as a probationa­ry officer for the Metropolit­an Police for nearly two years before he was found on a leaked database of users of extreme rightwing forum Iron March.

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

The officer, who has autism, said he was “desperate to impress” an older NA organiser who gave him free stickers and badges.

Hannam’s associatio­n with NA ended before he began working for the Met and counter-terrorism officers acted “swiftly” once he had been identified as a suspect.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s counter-terrorism command, said it was a “unique” case.

He said: “Ben Hannam obviously lied on his applicatio­n form to join the Met. He would never have been able to join had we known then of his interest in the extreme right wing and his previous membership of National Action.

“Once we identified his involvemen­t with that organisati­on we took immediate steps to arrest him and put him before the court.”

He stressed there was no evidence Hannam abused his position “to further his extremist views”.

The ideology of NA was described in court as based on “Aryan purity” and hatred of non-white groups, particular­ly Jews.

Members venerated Adolf Hitler as a “divine figure” and celebrated violence, including war and genocide, the court heard.

In his first post on Iron March, Hannam wrote he was “completely swayed” by NA.

He went on to try to recruit a new member via Iron March saying it is “always good for more people to join, means we can arrange more stuff which is just more fun for everybody!”

He told him that most NA guys agreed the “Hitler was right” slogan was “a bit too edgy” but added: “Then again it is pretty funny and we all know our stance on the big man.”

 ??  ?? A selfie photograph of Ben Hannam
A selfie photograph of Ben Hannam

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