A former British police officer convicted earlier this month of belonging to a banned neo-Nazi group in the United Kingdom has been sentenced to four years and four months in jail, a representative of London’s Central Criminal Court told CNN on Friday.
Benjamin Hannam was found guilty on five charges, including membership of the banned National Action group, making a false application to join the police force by not disclosing his membership of said group, possession of documents useful to a terrorist and the possession of indecent photographs of a child.
Hannam is the first officer in the UK to be convicted of having belonged to a terrorist organization, according to the court.
The former police officer was involved with the neo-Nazi group National Action from 2016, but had left the group before the joining the police force in March 2018, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Judge Anthony Leonard said that Hannam’s offense was “so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”
The 22-year-old served as a probationary officer in London’s Metropolitan Police.
Commander Richard Smith of the Met’s counter-terrorism unit said after Hannam’s conviction that the “public expect police officers to carry out their duties with the very highest levels of honesty and integrity. … Sadly, PC Hannam showed none of these qualities, firstly by joining and engaging 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.”
National Action became the first far-right group to be banned under Britain’s terror laws in December 2016. It is a criminal offense in the UK to be a member of the organization, which has been described by the country’s Home Office as “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic.”
The Met said previously that Hannam came to the attention of detectives last year as part of wider investigations into far-right groups. Police said they found documents on a USB memory stick and other digital devices which linked Hannam to far-right groups. A folder on the memory stick was named “NA” and contained files related to National Action.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told Times Radio that he felt “shocked and betrayed” by Hannam, as will the “tens and thousands of decent police officers all over the country.”