Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Met Police officer, 22, convicted of belonging to neo-Nazi terrorist organisation
1 April 2021, 13:55 | Updated: 1 April 2021, 16:06
A constable 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 today of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the Metropolitan Police and having terror documents detailing knife combat and how to make explosives.
Hannam, who was suspended from duty, also admitted possessing an indecent image of a child.
He had worked as a probationary officer for almost two years before he was found on a leaked database of users on an extreme right-wing forum called Iron March, which he tried to recruit a member to.
He signed up to the forum when he joined the London branch of NA in March 2016.
The group, which was proscribed after glorifying Jo Cox MP’s murder, was described in court as having an ideology based on "Aryan purity" and hatred of non-white groups and especially Jews.
They venerated Hitler as a "divine figure" and celebrated violence, war and genocide, the court was told.
The defendant's association with the group ended when he started working for the Met.
The force’s counter-terrorism officers moved "swiftly" when he was identified as a suspect.
Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met's counter-terrorism command, said there was no evidence Hannam had used his position to further his views.
He added: "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."
Hannam tried to recruit a member for Iron March and said NA members agreed "Hitler was right" but the slogan was "a bit too edgy".
He appeared in an official photograph during the NA national conference in Liverpool in April 2016, and continued to meet people linked with the group after it was proscribed.
Days after he was filmed in a promotional video, he applied to join the Met and denied he was part of the British National Party or a "similar organisation".
A search of his bedroom, however, found neo-Nazi posters, notes detailing his membership of NA, as well as NA badges and business cards.
As early as May 2014, Hannam had expressed intolerant views, writing: "I'm not racist, I just don't like people who's skin is darker than mine! (sic)"
He had stored on a USB stick two documents said to be useful to a terrorist.
Hannam denied being part of NA, and told jurors he started to like fascism from age 16 because he enjoyed the artwork.
He believed NA was "some kind of youth network" and merely socialised with its members, he told jurors.
Hannam, of Edmonton, north London, denied reading all of mass murderer Anders Breivik’s manifesto, which included guidance on making radiological, chemical, biological and explosive weapons.
He will be sentenced on 23 April.