'It's one rule for Nazi sympathisers and another for sympathisers of other terrorists'

1 September 2021, 15:43 | Updated: 1 September 2021, 16:56

By Sam Sholli

This is James O'Brien's response to white supremacist Ben John avoiding prison and instead being told by a judge to read works by Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.

Mr John was in August found guilty of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Judge Timothy Spencer QC told the 21-year-old former De Montfort University student he could stay out of prison as long as he steered clear of white-supremacy literature and and read works by Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.

Mr John will have to return to court every four months to be tested on his reading by the judge.

James said: "Quite bizarre that you can have one rule for Nazi-sympathisers and another rule for sympathisers with other repellent terrorist organisations. At least that's how it sometimes looks to me.

"It may be the judiciary is a little bit better than the media.

"But you cannot look me in the eye now and tell me that if this fella had been brown and had been falling for islamist propaganda online, the story of a judge telling him to read Charles Dickens and not go to jail [wouldn't] have been rather louder [and] of rather higher prominence than perhaps this one has already achieved."

In addition, referring to the judge's decision, James said: "I don't think this is bonkers."