LONDON — An officer in London’s main police force was convicted on Thursday of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi group, his force said, becoming the first British police officer to be convicted of a terrorism offense, according to the BBC and other British news sources.
Benjamin Hannam, 22, a probationary police officer who applied to the London force, the Metropolitan Police, in 2017 and joined it in early 2018, was found guilty of membership of a banned organization — the neo-Nazi group National Action — as well as two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of possession of document likely to be of use to a terrorist, the police said in a briefing.
The fraud charges related to lying on application forms for his police position, local media at a court in London reported.
Mr. Hannam demonstrated an “adherence to fascist ideology and a potentially veiled but nonetheless evident neo-Nazi mind-set,” the prosecutor, Dan Pawson-Pounds, said according to The Independent, adding that he had met with people at National Action events even after the group had been banned. The group, which praised the murder of a British lawmaker, Jo Cox, was outlawed in December 2016.
The trial began in March, but the court had banned reporting of its details to avoid a risk of biasing future jurors in a separate case against Mr. Hannam, according to local media. The restrictions were lifted after Mr. Hannam pleaded guilty to possessing an indecent image of a child, which was to have been the subject of the second trial.
Mr. Hannam, who in court denied being a member of the group, joined the London branch of National Action in 2016, according to the police briefing. He said during the trial that he was interested by the “look and aesthetic of fascism,” but that he was not a racist, according to the BBC.
He appeared in a propaganda video for the group the same month he applied to join the police force, though police said his “known involvement” had ended by September 2017, several months before he began police training. The force said that he had hidden this history, and “had he been honest, this would have automatically precluded him from joining the Metropolitan Police Service.”
The Metropolitan Police have faced accusations of racism and discriminatory practices, and the force said in November that it would recruit more minority officers in order to be more representative.