Neo-Nazi British police officer is jailed for four years and four months 

Ben Hannam’s journey from neo-Nazi group member to police officer

Here is PC Benjamin Hannam’s progress from schoolboy, to neo-Nazi, to Metropolitan Police officer:

2011-2017: The neo-Nazi online forum Iron March is active.August 2013: National Action (NA) emerges from Iron March with stickers and flash demonstrations. Its neo-Nazi ideology includes a belief in ‘Aryan purity’ and hatred of non-white groups, particularly Jews; it venerates Hitler as ‘divine’ and celebrates war and genocide.2014: Hannam says he first became interested in fascism around the age of 16. He also began a three-and-a-half year secret relationship with his Muslim girlfriend.May 24, 2014: In a Skype conversation, Hannam says: ‘I’m not racist, I just don’t like people who’s skin is darker than mine’.December 29, 2014: An electronic copy of Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto is downloaded by Hannam and later opened twice.March 6, 2016: Hannam attends a National Action meeting in a pub at Paddington in London, which is his first known direct contact with the group. He writes in his diary afterwards they are ‘a good bunch of lads’ and he ‘can’t wait to get more involved’.March 7, 2016 – May 15, 2017: Hannam is an occasional user and poster on Iron March.March 8, 2016: Hannam posts that he was ‘completely swayed’ after watching a video featuring an NA member.March 18 2016: Hannam posts a link to a newspaper article about a Muslim shooting a white man in London and described his ideology as ‘fascist’.April 2016: Hannam appears on a database of NA members.April 17, 2016: Iron March user ‘Schmiss’ asks about NA London, and Hannam responds saying it is ‘pretty good’ and asks if he’s thinking of joining.April 23, 2016: Hannam attends the NA National Conference in Liverpool. He posed for an official photograph with five other men holding the NA flag on Crosby Beach. NA co-founder Alex Davies was a speaker and Mark Jones an attendee.May 2, 2016: Asked by another Iron March user if he had joined NA yet, Hannam says: ‘Mmm why mate?’May 9, 2016: Hannam says he hopes to meet ‘Schmiss’ as a new recruit in the summer, and focus on recruiting 16-plus members into ‘our group’.Early June: Hannam pushes further, saying: ‘You still going to join in the summer? London’s been hanging out quite a bit and it’d be a shame not to see a new face.’ He tells Schmiss that the slogan ‘Hitler was right’ was a ‘bit too edgy’, adding: ‘Then again it is pretty funny and we all know our stance on the big man.’June 10, 2016: A ‘knife combat’ document and the Anders Behring Breivik manifesto are transferred to a USB stick by Hannam.December 11, 2016: Hannam searches online for an article about the up-coming ban on NA.December 16, 2016: National Action, an extreme neo-Nazi organisation, is proscribed by the Government. Hannam closes his tutanota email account used to register with NA. He also creates a new folder on a USB stick containing NA-related files, including the knife combat document.January 15, 2017: Hannam joins NA associates at two pubs in Swindon, including Alex Davies, Mark Jones, and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski.February 26, 2017: Hannam purchases coach tickets ahead of an indoor boxing event in Swindon at which Alex Davies, Mark Jones, and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski were present. He did not go.April 10, 2017: Hannam attends an outdoor boxing event, said to be ‘classic NA training activity’. Videos found by police on Alex Davies’ camera, show Hannam taking an active role in the activities. Alex Davies and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski were also present.July 2, 2017: Hannam spray paints a NS131 symbol on to a storm drain on the outskirts of Swindon and is picture holding a Celtic Cross flag associated with extreme fascist groups. Alex Davies, Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski and Elliott Richards-Good are present.July 19, 2017: Hannam applies to join the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), and denies ever having been a member of the BNP ‘or similar organisation’.July 28, 2017: Hannam’s activities at the graffiti event feature in NS131 promotional videos. In it he says: ‘Do you mind if throw my hood up, thanks. My hair, my hair identifies me.’September 2017 to January 2018: Hannam is a student at St Mary’s University, Twickenham studying for BA (Hons) in Theology and Religious Studies. A reference through the university for his application to the Met raises no concerns.October 24, 2017: Hannam denies ever being a ‘member of the BNP or similar organisation’ on his vetting form for the MPS.March 26, 2018: Hannam starts as a trainee police officer.June 18, 2019: Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski is sentenced at the Old Bailey for two counts of publishing statements to encourage terrorism in 2018.December 2, 2019: Elliott Richards-Good is sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court for a string of offences, including stirring up racial hatred, racially aggravated criminal damage. They relate to racist posters and graffiti and posters commemorating Adolf Hitler’s birthday.November 2019: A database leak from Iron March listing a number of users and subscribers to the group is made publicly available on the internet.March 5, 2020: Hannam is arrested at his home in Edmonton, London after being identified on Iron March.March 19, 2020: London organiser Mark Jones is sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court for belonging to NA. He is also co-founder of NS131, a recognised alias of NA post-proscription.April 1 : Hannam become the first British police officer to be convicted of belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation.April 30: Hannam is jailed for four years and four months at the Old Bailey.

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

Ben Hannam, 22, was found guilty of membership of right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) after it was banned in 2016 until September 2017, following a trial at the Old Bailey.

He had been working as a probationary officer for the Metropolitan Police for nearly two years before he was found on a leaked database of users of extreme right-wing forum Iron March and arrested last year.

Hannam, who pleaded guilty to possessing an indecent image of a child, was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the force and having two terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

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.

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.”

Hannam was arrested in his bedroom in March 2020, where officers found his walls covered in Nazi propaganda and Star Wars posters he liked because he said they reminded him of fascist art, with manuals detailing the production of biological weapons and knife combat hidden on a USB stick among the mess. 

Hannam later told the court about difficulties faced in his three-and-a-half-year secret relationship with his Muslim girlfriend, which began in 2014. He said his girlfriend’s parents were ‘really strict’ and ‘hated’ him, even though he tried to study Islam. 

The Old Bailey heard Hannam joined National Action in March 2016, but it was said his association with the far-right group ended before he began working for the Metropolitan Police in March 2018. However, the defendant appeared in a recruitment video for a group called NS131 – an off-shoot of National Action – just days before making an application to the Met in July 2017.    

His activity was discovered when an anonymous hacker using the name ‘antifa-data’ [anti-fascist data] hacked into a neo-Nazi forum called Iron March and published details of its 1,185 users online. 

The court heard Hannam joined National Action’s London branch in March 2016 after being rejected by his Muslim girlfriend’s family. He was seduced by free stickers, outdoor activities and the friendship of a ‘cool’ big brother-type figure.

Even after the far-right group was banned in December 2016, Hannam – who is autistic – continued to associate with some of the same people, and was filmed spray painting fascist graffiti weeks before he applied to join the Metropolitan Police in July 2017.

Hannam, who was brought up by a single mother and has two sisters and a younger brother, ended his association with NA before he began working for the Met as a probationary officer.

The court was told counter-terrorism officers acted ‘swiftly’ once he had been identified as a suspect, with commander Richard Smith insisting Hannam was a ‘unique’ case.

He said: ‘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.’

He stressed there was no evidence Hannam abused his position ‘to further his extremist views’.

After Hannam’s arrest, detectives found an image on his iPhone showing him in police uniform, with a Hitler-style moustache superimposed on his face added, he said, by a schoolfriend.

They also found he had downloaded a knife-fighting manual and a copy of the ‘manifesto’ of the rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people, mostly children, in bomb and gun attacks in Norway on July 22 2011.

Dan Pawson-Pounds, prosecuting, said the Breivik document included bomb making instructions and ‘exhaustive justifications for his mass-casualty attacks.’

The ideology of NA was described in court as based on ‘Aryan purity’ and hatred of non-white groups, particularly Jews. Members venerated Adolf Hitler as a ‘divine figure’ and celebrated violence, including war and genocide, the court heard.

Hannam told the court his interest in fascism started because he liked the ‘bold look’ of Nazi propaganda posters and his autism made him obsessive about downloading material.

His school, Winchmore School in Enfield, had raised concerns internally over his extremist views after comments about immigration during a debate on Brexit and an A-level project on extremist ideology which could not be submitted because of the content.

However, when Hannam applied to the police in July 2017, he gave his university as a reference, despite dropping out of his theology course after only one term, and no school reference was sought.

As part of the police application process he was asked if he had ever been a member of the British National Party ‘or a similar organisation, whose constitution, aims, objectives, or pronouncements may contradict police officers’ duty to promote race equality.’

In answering no, he was said to have defrauded the police out of the £66,000 they spent employing him between March 26 2018, when he started as a trainee, and his arrest in March last year.

After his arrest, Hannam’s stop and search records, crime reports and case files were all reviewed and police found there was ‘no evidence that Hannam targeted individuals as a result of any right-wing views.’

The Old Bailey heard that on March 6 2016 Hannam had attended a National Action meeting in a pub in Paddington and that until the summer of 2017, he had continued to attend activities organised by the group. 

It was said he appeared to foster ‘intolerant’ views as a student at Winchmore School in Enfield, with history teacher Lisa Hughes saying he made ‘inappropriate’ anti-immigration comments during a Brexit debate in 2016. 

In May 2017, she refused to submit an A-level politics dissertation because of his ‘intolerant’ view of Islam.

Hannam was referred to guidance adviser Hafida Zitouni, who described him as ‘respectful’ and ‘polite’ even though he avoided the issue. 

Ben Hannam, 22, a probationary officer at the force, has been found guilty of membership of right-wing extremist group National Action following a trial at the Old Bailey. Pictured: An image found on Hannam’s iPhone showing him in a police uniform with a Hitler-style moustache superimposed on his face

When officers searched his bedroom last year, they found neo-Nazi posters, notes detailing his membership of NA, as well as NA badges and business cards. Nazi propaganda can be seen on the wall by his bed alongside Star Wars posters, which the court heard he likened to the artwork and imagery of fascism

Hannam (circled) is seen at a Yates Bar in Swindon on January 15, 2017, where he met NA co-founder Alex Davies and others

Hannam (circled) is seen at a Yates Bar in Swindon on January 15, 2017, where he met NA co-founder Alex Davies and others

Hannam pictured leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court in London in August ahead of the three-week trial

Hannam pictured leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in August ahead of the three-week trial

Pictured: Documents found at Hannam's homePictured: Documents found at Hannam's home

A diary belonging to Hannam in which he detailed ‘possible group activities’ and his ‘life in recent years’

Hannam (circled) joined the Metropolitan Police in March 2018, making an application weeks after he was filmed spray painting fascist graffiti

Hannam (circled) joined the Metropolitan Police in March 2018, making an application weeks after he was filmed spray painting fascist graffiti

The defendant is seen doing a Nazi salute and holding a National Action flag during a meeting of the neo-Nazi group

The defendant is seen doing a Nazi salute and holding a National Action flag during a meeting of the neo-Nazi group

Over the course of around 15 sessions, he spoke instead about his frustrations that his Mauritian Muslim girlfriend’s parents did not accept him. 

Ms Zitouni also noted he appeared to lack self-confidence around Valentine’s Day and exams.

Pictured: Hannam, whose activities were discovered after an anonymous hacker using the name ‘antifa-data’ [anti-fascist data] hacked into a neo-Nazi forum called Iron March

Giving evidence, Hannam described the difficulties in his three-and-a-half-year secret relationship, which began in 2014. He said his girlfriend’s parents were ‘really strict’ and ‘hated’ him, even though he tried to study Islam.

At the time, his interests ranged from Japanese anime, Dungeons and Dragons and languages – including the Lord of the Rings’ Elvish.  

From the age of around 16, he also developed a darker fascination with fascism, which he was exposed to online through 4Chan, an anonymous bulletin board.

He said he was drawn into it through the artwork and imagery of fascism, which he likened to Star Wars Stormtroopers.

Hannam told the court: ‘It was the look and aesthetic of fascism that started it. The bold look of the images.’

The defendant said he went in search of friends he could talk about politics with, because he ‘struggled socially’.

He told jurors: ‘It makes sense now I know I’m autistic. I struggle reading people’s faces. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become better at communication skills. My interests were always vastly different from everyone else’s. 

‘When I was at secondary school, after my dad left I got stuck with a behavioural team. 

Hannam seen in his bedroom upon his arrest in footage released by the Metropolitan Police

Hannam seen in his bedroom upon his arrest in footage released by the Metropolitan Police

Hannam seen during an outdoor boxing event in footage shown to the jury during his trial

Hannam seen during an outdoor boxing event in footage shown to the jury during his trial

Hannam (seen above) told jurors he had been attracted to fascism aged 16 because of its bold artwork and contacted NA after seeing propaganda online

Hannam (seen above) told jurors he had been attracted to fascism aged 16 because of its bold artwork and contacted NA after seeing propaganda online

Hannam (above) was convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the Met and having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices

Hannam (above) was convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the Met and having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices

‘At secondary school my interests were fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons. It’s really Big Bang Theory-esque. I could not discuss politics with anyone. I felt very lonely.’

How young, socially awkward teenager with a Jewish step-grandfather joined National Action after being rejected by Muslim girlfriend’s family 

Young, white and socially-awkward, Benjamin Hannam was a prime target for neo-Nazi group National Action.

Frustrated at being rejected by his Muslim girlfriend’s family, Hannam was swallowed up by a dangerous online world. It led him to join NA’s London branch, seduced by free stickers, outdoor activities and the friendship of a ‘cool’ big brother-type figure.

Even after it was banned in December 2016, Hannam – who has autism – continued to associate with some of the same people. He was filmed spray painting fascist graffiti just weeks before he applied to join the Metropolitan Police in July 2017.

Hannam, now aged 22, of Enfield in north London, was brought up by his single parent mother along with two sisters and a younger bother. Since his father left, he referred to himself as having ‘control of the house’, the Old Bailey heard. Hannam said his ‘gay’ grandfather tried to provide a ‘fatherly’ role, but he had more recently suffered from cancer. During the pandemic, it was his Jewish step-grandfather ‘pops’ who was the ‘pillar’ of the family, he said.

Despite purporting to have friends with different ethnic backgrounds, Hannam appeared to foster ‘intolerant’ views at Winchmore School in Enfield. History teacher Lisa Hughes told the court that during a Brexit debate in 2016, in which he spoke for leaving the European Union, Hannam made ‘inappropriate’ anti-immigration comments and ‘came across as offensive to students’.

In May 2017, she refused to submit an A-level politics dissertation because of his ‘intolerant’ view of Islam.

Hannam was referred to guidance adviser Hafida Zitouni, who described him as ‘respectful’ and ‘polite’ even though he avoided the issue. Over the course of around 15 sessions, he spoke instead about his frustrations that his Mauritian Muslim girlfriend’s parents did not accept him.

Ms Zitouni also noted he appeared to lack self-confidence around Valentine’s Day and exams. Giving evidence, Hannam described the difficulties in his three-and-a-half-year secret relationship, which began in 2014. He said his girlfriend’s parents were ‘really strict’ and ‘hated’ him, even though he tried to study Islam.

At the time, his interests ranged from Japanese anime, Dungeons and Dragons and languages – including the Lord of the Rings’ Elvish. From the age of around 16, he also developed a darker fascination with fascism, which he was exposed to online through 4Chan, an anonymous bulletin board.

He said he was drawn into it through the artwork and imagery of fascism, which he likened to Star Wars Stormtroopers. Hannam told jurors: ‘It was the look and aesthetic of fascism that started it. The bold look of the images.’

The defendant said he went in search of friends he could talk about politics with, because he ‘struggled socially’. He told jurors: ‘It makes sense now I know I’m autistic. I struggle reading people’s faces. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become better at communication skills. My interests were always vastly different from everyone else’s. When I was at secondary school, after my dad left I got stuck with a behavioural team. At secondary school my interests were fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons. It’s really Big Bang Theory-esque. I could not discuss politics with anyone. I felt very lonely.’

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