London police officer found guilty of membership in banned neo-Nazi group

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April 1 (UPI) — A London police officer has been found guilty of membership in a banned neo-Nazi group, the Metropolitan Police said Thursday.

Probationary Police Constable Benjamin Hannam, 22, of North London, was found guilty of membership of proscribed terrorist organization National Action, following a trial at the Old Bailey, Met Police said in a statement. He was convicted of two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of possession of document likely to be of use to a terrorist.

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The Home Secretary proscribed the racist neo-Nazi group National Action as a terrorist group on December 16, 2016.

“The public expect police officers to carry out their duties with the very highest levels of honesty and integrity,” said Commander Richard Smith of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. “Sadly, PC Hannam showed none of these qualities, firstly by joining with a far-right proscribed organization, and then when he lied about his past links to this group when applying to become a police officer.”

Hannam is slated for sentencing on April 23.

He was suspended from duty following his arrest on March 5 of last year. His arrest stemmed from a Counter Terrorism Command investigation in February of last year into individuals, including suspected National Action members, linked to a far-right extremist Internet forum ‘Iron March.’

Smith said in a statement Hannam was arrested shortly after investigators were able to “link his online profile to his real-world identity.”

After his arrest, investigators found that he had not only engaged with National Action offline since March 2016, but also had direct involvement with the group offline after it was banned. Hannam joined the Met in March 2018 after lying about his involvement with the banned group when applying the prior year.

His involvement with the banned group ended prior to the start of his police training, according to the police statement. Until the summer of 2017, when he applied to the Met, he had attended various activities and events organized by the group.

Hannam was also a recruiter for National Action, Sky News reported.

Detectives spotted an image of Hannam online after his arrest, which showed him in a police uniform, with a Hitler-style mustache superimposed on his face and a Nazi badge on his lapel, according to Sky News.

They also discovered Hannam had a knife-fighting manual, and a copy of the “manifesto” of right-wing extremist Anders Breivik, which included bomb-making instructions and “exhaustive justifications for his mass-casualty attacks,” prosecutors said, Sky News added.

Breivik killed 77 people in a terrorist bombing and shooting rampage in Oslo, Norway, in 2011.

Hannam’s conviction for a terrorism offense marks a first for a British officer, the BBC reported.