British policeman convicted of terrorism after neo-Nazi data breach
Ben Hannam supported National Action, a neo-Nazi group dedicated to race war in the UK
A British policeman on Thursday became the first serving officer prosecuted for right-wing terrorism in the UK after he was unmasked by a leak of data from a neo-Nazi website.
The leak identified London police officer and avowed racist Ben Hannam, 22, as a member of banned right-wing group National Action.
A judge told Hannam that he faced a jail sentence after a jury found him guilty.
Police started an investigation after the data dump from extremist site Iron March in November 2019 that listed a number of subscribers around the world. They identified a user who went by the name of Anglisc as Hannam.
Hannam used the site to recruit for National Action, a group that celebrated violence and considered Adolf Hitler a divine figure. When police searched his home, they found a photo of Hannam wearing a police uniform and with a Hitler-style moustache superimposed on his face, Sky News reported.
The group was proscribed for promoting acts of terrorism after the murder of a British Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, by a right-wing extremist in June 2016.
The jury heard that Hannam attended a National Action meeting at a pub in central London, in March 2016, and a conference the following month., before the group was banned.
But he continued to attend events in 2017 including a boxing training camp – in apparent preparation for a race war. He was captured on mobile phone footage spraying extremist graffiti for a promotional video.
He applied to join the Metropolitan police, the country’s largest force, in July 2017. He submitted vetting forms in October but made no mention of his right-wing links.
The forms asked anyone to declare if they had been a member of the right-wing British National Party, or any similar group with racist ideologies.
A reference from his former university raised no concerns but the trial was told that teachers reported Hannam as being openly racist at his school.
Police said that any known involvement with National Action ended by October 2017, six months before he became a probationer in London’s main force.
He was a police officer for two years before he was arrested over his membership of National Action.
Police searches of his home uncovered a notebook in which he made references to National Action and drew a neo-Nazi logo.
They also found National Action business cards, books related to fascism and far-right wing ideologies, as well as a piece of paper with the password and user details for the Iron March forum. A memory stick contained documents including a guide on how to use knives in combat and an extremist manifesto compiled by Anders Breivik before he killed 77 people in a bomb and shooting attack in Norway.
“Once we identified that fact, we acted very swiftly and robustly to investigate the matter and put him before the courts,” Commander Richard Smith said.
Hannam was charged in 2020 with fraud, relating to false information on his vetting forms, and terrorist offences. He was suspended from the force after his arrest.
A review of work suggested there were no complaints about him for racism during his short and undistinguished career.
One of his former associates at National Action, Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, was jailed in November 2018 for encouraging an attack on Prince Harry because of his marriage to a woman of mixed race.
Updated: April 1, 2021 08:51 PM