A rookie who applied to join the Met just days after spray painting a Nazi symbol in Swindon has become the first British police officer to be convicted of belonging to a neo-Nazi terrorist organisation.

PC Ben Hannam, 22, was found guilty of membership of banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) following a trial at the Old Bailey.

He was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the Metropolitan Police and having terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

He twice travelled to meet NA group members in Swindon. In January 2017, he met the group's co-founder Alex Davies in Swindon pubs. Seven months later, in July, he spray painted the symbol for an NA alias - NS131 - in the town.

A jury had deliberated for more than 32 hours to find Hannam guilty on Thursday.
Judge Anthony Leonard QC lifted a ban on reporting the case after Hannam admitted possessing an indecent image of a child, which was to have been the subject of a separate trial.

Hannam 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.

Swindon Advertiser:

Hannam outside court Picture: PA WIRE

He had signed up to the forum when he joined the London branch of neo-Nazi group NA in March 2016.

The officer, who has autism, said he was "desperate to impress" an older NA organiser who gave him free stickers and badges.

Hannam's association with NA ended before he began working for the Met and counter-terrorism officers acted "swiftly" once he had been identified as a suspect.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met's counter-terrorism command, said it 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".

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.

In his first post on Iron March, Hannam wrote that he was "completely swayed" by NA.
He went on to try to recruit a new member via Iron March saying it is "always good for more people to join, means we can arrange more stuff which is just more fun for everybody!"

He told him that most NA guys 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.

On December 16 2016, NA was proscribed after it glorified the murder of MP Jo Cox.
However, Hannam continued to meet high-profile people linked to the group in early 2017.

In January 2017, he travelled to Swindon pubs where he met NA co-founder Alex Davies and others.

In April 2017, he took part in outdoor boxing in woodland which was filmed on Mr Davies' camera.

On July 2, he spray painted the symbol for an NA alias - NS131 - in a storm drain on the outskirts of Swindon, which was filmed for a promotional video.

In the film, Hannam is heard to say: "Do you mind if I throw my hood up, thanks. My hair, my hair identifies me."

Days later, on July 19, Hannam applied to join Scotland Yard, fraudulently denying he had ever been a member of the British National Party "or similar organisation".

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.

As early as May 2014, Hannam had expressed intolerant views, writing: "I'm not racist, I just don't like people who's skin is darker than mine! (sic)"

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

Mass murderer Anders 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.

In his defence, 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 aged 16 because of its bold artwork and contacted NA after seeing propaganda online.

Hannam told jurors: "I was under the impression this was some kind of youth network.
"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."

He denied reading all of Breivik's manifesto, saying he found it "boring".

Hannam, of Edmonton, north London, is currently suspended from duty.

Checks found "nothing of concern" in his work at the Met and no complaints from colleagues or members of the public about his behaviour.

Before his arrest, Hannam had an "unremarkable career", apart from receiving a final warning for gross misconduct in 2018 for using his brother's Oyster card.

Ahead of his trial, Hannam had requested an indication from Judge Anthony Leonard QC of the likely sentence if he pleaded guilty.

The judge declined to give a formal indication, but said conviction would lead to a jail sentence.

Some of Hannam's former associates have been convicted over their activities.

In 2019, Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, then 18, from west London, was given an 18-month detention and training order for encouraging an attack on Prince Harry, calling him a "race traitor".

The same year, Elliott Richards-Good, 20, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was convicted of stirring up racial hatred and sentenced to 16 months in a young offender institution.

London branch organiser Mark Jones, 25, Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax in West Yorkshire, was convicted of belonging to NA and jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2020.

Timeline - from PC to Nazi group member

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.

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. He writes in his diary afterwards they are "a good bunch of lads" and he "can't wait to get more involved".

7 March 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.