Benjamin Hannam, 22, a probationary police officer with the London Metropolitan Police, is said to be the first serving British officer to be convicted of a “terrorism” offense.
He was convicted of belonging to National Action, a far-right organization that was banned in 2016 after praising the murder of Jo Cox, an MP who was killed in a frenzied street attack by a loner obsessed with the Nazis.
National Action was the first far-right group to be banned in the UK since World War II. In 2018, one of its members pleaded guilty to planning to assassinate another lawmaker with a sword and threatening to kill a police officer.
Following a trial in Old Bailey Court in London, Hannam was also found guilty of lying on his police application forms and possession of “terrorism” documents, police said. Legal restrictions on the case were lifted on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to separate charges of possession of indecent images of a child.
Hannam, who has been suspended from duty and faces a fast-track misconduct hearing, will be sentenced on April 23. He was released on bail before his conviction.
His first known dealings with National Action came in early 2016, six months before his ban, but he continued his involvement with the group and its NS131 branch after the ban, Counter Terrorism chief Richard Smith told reporters. London Command.
The ideology of national action was described in court as being based on “Aryan purity” and a particular hatred of non-white groups, especially Jews.
Hannam lied about his involvement in a far-right group during his application to join the Metropolitan Police, which he submitted in 2018.
Guide to using the weapons found at Hannam’s
Detectives discovered his involvement in February 2020 following a leak of a database of members of a far-right online forum, Iron March, in which he had posted under the name “Anglisc”.
Hannam was arrested the following month at his home, where officers found a notebook referring to the far-right group, a guide to the use of knives and weapons, and the Breivik manifesto, which killed 77 people. in 2011 in the worst peacetime atrocities in Norway. .
Smith said the public would fear someone from a banned group had succeeded in becoming a police officer, but the force acted quickly once his background was known.
Police checked the cases Hannam had worked on, but found nothing to worry about. Neither his colleagues nor any member of the public raised any concerns about his behavior.
“He would never have been able to join if we had known then his interest in the far right and his previous membership in National Action,” Smith said.
Police said a review of the verification process was underway.
In his defense, Hannam denied ever having been a member of the group before or after his ban, and said he “desperately wanted to impress” an older member of the organization, who gave him free stickers and badges. .
He told the court he was drawn to fascism when he was 16 because of his daring artwork and contacted National Action after seeing his propaganda online.
“I felt like it was some kind of youth network,” he said.