Ben Hannam: First British police officer convicted of belonging to neo-Nazi terrorist group jailed for more than four years

Tristan Kirk
·5-min read
<p>Ben Hannam showed no emotion as he was led down to the cells following his sentencing on Friday</p> (PA)

Ben Hannam showed no emotion as he was led down to the cells following his sentencing on Friday

(PA)

The first British police officer to be convicted of belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist group has been jailed for more than four years.

Ben Hannam, 22, joined the London branch of banned right-wing extremist group National Action in 2016, more than a year before he applied to become a PC.

He lied on his application to Scotland Yard and worked as a probationary officer for nearly two years before his name appeared on a leaked database of users of the extreme right-wing forum Iron March.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC sentenced Hannam, who was last week sacked by the Met for gross misconduct, to a total of four years and four months' imprisonment on Friday.

The judge told him: "I consider what you did to be very serious and you have harmed public trust in the police by your deceit."

The Old Bailey previously heard Hannam’s intolerant views dated back to 2014 when, as a schoolboy he wrote: “I’m not racist, I just don’t like people who’s (sic) skin is darker than mine!”

Hannam appears second from the right in this picture that was shown to the juryPA
Hannam appears second from the right in this picture that was shown to the juryPA

A jury convicted him last month of membership of a banned right-wing extremist group, as well as two counts of fraud by false representation and two charges of possession of document likely to be of use to a terrorist.

Hannam had been caught with Nazi-style posters, National Action badges and business cards, the manifesto of mass murderer Anders Breivik, and guides to making weapons and carrying out a fatal knife attack.

Sentencing Hannam, Judge Leonard called his views “horrible and deeply troubling”.

“Police recruitment systems rely on individuals telling the truth”, he said.

“You abused the trust put in you and by the public in general to tell the truth - I consider what you did to be very serious and you have harmed the public trust in the police by your deceit.”

This selfie photograph of Hannam was also shown during his trialPA
This selfie photograph of Hannam was also shown during his trialPA

Hannam, wearing beige chinos, a dark blue blazer, white shirt and tie showed no emotion as he was sentenced and taken down to the cells.

As his trial was coming to a close, Hannam also pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited image of a child, after a series of hand-drawn pictures of young girl being sexual abused were found on a hard drive at his north London home.

Hannam was involved in the recruitment of members to National Action and appeared in a promotional video after signing up to the London branch in 2016.

The group was banned in December 2016, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, but Hannam continued to meet with high-ranking figures in the group.

The court heard Hannam performed his PC duties adequately from entering the force in July 2017 to his arrest and suspension.

He lied about his membership of the group when applying to Scotland Yard, just days after he was filmed spray painting a National Action symbol on to a storm drain for the promotional video.

In March 2016, he had signed up to Iron March when he joined the London branch of neo-Nazi group NA.

Hannam, who has autism, told jurors he was "desperate to impress" an older NA organiser who gave him free stickers and badges.

A picture taken from inside Hannam’s bedroomPA
A picture taken from inside Hannam’s bedroomPA

Hannam went on to try to recruit a new member via Iron March, jurors were told.

He told him that most NA members agreed the "Hitler was right" slogan was "a bit too edgy" but added: "Then again, it is pretty funny and we all know our stance on the big man."

At the NA national conference in Liverpool in April 2016, Hannam posed in an official photograph on Crosby Beach.

Between January and July 2017, he saw NA members in pubs, at an outdoor boxing event, and was involved in spray-painting the storm drain.

Days later, Hannam applied to join Scotland Yard.

He fraudulently denied he had ever been a member of the British National Party "or similar organisation".

When officers searched his bedroom last year, they found Nazi-style posters, notes detailing his membership of NA, as well as NA badges and business cards.

He had stored on a USB stick two documents said to be useful to a terrorist.

Mass murderer Breivik's manifesto contained guidance on making radiological, chemical and biological weapons, and improvised explosive devices, while the second document detailed how to carry out a fatal knife attack.

But Hannam denied he had ever been a member of NA before or after it was banned.

He told jurors he had been attracted to fascism at the age of 16 because of its bold artwork, and contacted NA after seeing propaganda online.

"I was under the impression this was some kind of youth network," he said.

"I have never been stickering with NA, nor have I done banner drops. I stuck to social activities.

"Most of the time was going to the pub and going for walks. Other times camping or going boxing."

Hannam’s legal team had asked the judge for an indication of the likely sentence if he pleaded guilty before trial, and Judge Leonard concluded even a guilty plea would not spared him a prison sentence.

His barrister told the court today there had been a “change of mindset” in the years since he first made contact with National Action.

She said his police record has been reviewed and there was “no evidence he had brought extremist views to his work as a police officer.”

She added that his senior officers “were thoroughly shocked on his arrest, and thought it was the wrong man because they couldn’t connect the young man they were involved in supervising with the offences for which he had been arrested.”

Commenting on his dismissal, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said: "In behaving as he did, he has without question harmed public confidence in, and the reputation of the MPS, by belonging to an organisation that espouses the views of National Action, which are so wholly an antithesis of the Met's values and the traditions of British policing."

Hannam was ordered to serve an extra year on licence following the end of his prison term.

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