A Metropolitan police constable found to be a member of a banned neo-Nazi terrorist organisation has become the first British officer to be convicted of a terrorism offence.
Benjamin Hannam, of Enfield, north London, joined the Metropolitan police in 2018 and worked as a probationary officer for nearly two years before detectives identified him on a leaked database of users of an extreme right-wing forum named Iron March.
It emerged that the 22-year-old had signed up to the forum in March 2016, when he joined the London branch of the neo-Nazi group National Action (NA) which was banned in December 2016.
The officer, who is currently suspended from duty, was arrested in March last year and officers uncovered an NA business card and badges, as well as writings about Hannam’s involvement with the group.
Hannam was tried at the Old Bailey, where the court heard that on the day NA was banned he transferred a knife-fighting manual and other extremist texts from his computer to a folder named NA. Detectives also uncovered multiple prohibited images including ‘pseudo images’ of young boys and girls, BBC News reports.
The officer was said to be part of a successor version of NA called NS131, which was banned in September 2017. Hannam reportedly appeared in online videos for the group in which he spray-painted neo-Nazi logos.
A jury deliberated for more than 32 hours before today finding Hannam guilty of remaining in NA for several months after it was banned. He was also convicted on two counts of fraud for lying about his far-right past on his application for the Met, as well as having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.
Commenting on the decision, Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Hannam’s lies had ‘caught up with him and he’s been exposed as an individual with deeply racists beliefs.’
She continued: ‘Benjamin Hannam would not have got a job as a probationary police constable if he’d told the truth about his membership of a banned, far-right group.’
Despite regularly attending group meetings for NA, Hannam denied the offences and claimed that he was not a racist, but that he was interested by the ‘look and aesthetic of fascism’. He further alleged to have challenged group members when they expressed extremist views.
Hannam said he had been ‘desperate to impress’ an older NA organiser, and that his association with the group ended before he joined the Met.
Scotland Yard has reviewed Hannam’s time in the Met and says it found no evidence to suggest his actions there had been influenced by extremist ideology. Following his conviction, Hannam was released on conditional bail ahead of his sentencing, which is set for April 23.
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