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US seen as safe haven for nazi sympathisers...

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Two men who fled to the US after waging a campaign of hate against Jews and other minority groups were jailed at Leeds crown court today.

Simon Sheppard, 52, was sentenced to four years and 10 months and Stephen Whittle, 42, was given a term of two years and four months after being convicted of a number of race-hate crimes following two lengthy trials.

The sentence included a four-month term for skipping bail after the judge told them they had "run away to avoid the consequences of your actions".

Whittle wrote offensive articles which were published on the internet by Sheppard. The material included grotesque images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.

Judge Rodney Grant told the pair their material was abusive and insulting and had the potential to cause grave social harm.

Sheppard, of Selby, North Yorkshire, who has a previous race-hate conviction, was found guilty of 16 offences, and Whittle, of Preston, Lancashire, was found guilty of five after two trials, which concluded in January this year.

During the first trial last July they skipped bail and sought asylum in California, claiming they were being persecuted for their rightwing views. They were deported back to the UK last month by a US immigration judge.

The original investigation began in 2004 when a leaflet called Tales of the Holohoax which was pushed through the door of a synagogue in Blackpool was traced by police to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard.

Police later found a website featuring racially inflammatory material.

Prosecutors said one leaflet suggested Auschwitz was a free holiday camp for Jews provided by the Nazi regime.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said: "A constant theme was the Jewish people had made up the story of the Holocaust as a slur on the German people."

Referring to another article by Whittle, the prosecutor added: "He returned to what appears to be a favourite theme: the notion that black people are not as equal as whites. They are sex-crazed, blood-thirsty savages.

"Black people were caricatured as uncivilised primitive savages portrayed as nothing more than murderers and rapists."

The pair claimed they should be acquitted because the articles were posted on a server registered in the US, beyond the reach of UK law.

Adrian Davidson, for Sheppard, said his client came from a "very troubled background" and revealed that his mother had committed suicide.

He had problems with authority, and in particular the police, but was an intelligent man who had a degree in maths.

Linda Turnbull, for Whittle, said her client was shocked at the nature of the articles he had written and had no intention of re-offending.

Adil Khan, head of diversity and community cohesion at Humberside police, said: "This case is groundbreaking. Previously material published on the internet has been argued to have been published by internet servers outside the UK.

"In this case the publication was judged to have occurred when Sheppard and Whittle uploaded the information. This has been a very long journey – one which has been complex and complicated.

"Inciting racial hatred is a crime which seems to occur too regularly. This kind of material will not be tolerated, as this lengthy investigation shows."


Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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They didn't try from what I can see, it was enough that it had the 'potential' to cause grave social harm.

That and the fact that they targeted a synagogue with their holohoax pamphlets.

Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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Yeah I get that - but I'm rather ambivalent about it to be honest. Not something I feel to be jailworthy.

The purpose of these laws seems to be to prevent the rise of nazi-type organisations (though we already have that in the National Front or BNP, who are able to skirt the more extreme views of their members by tarting up and toning down some of the language) by punishing people for expressing stupid and/or abhorrent ideas.

If there was evidence of organization and recruitment or that the guys were taking criminal or paramilitary actions to enforce their ideology, then I could see justification for jailtime. Other than that - perhaps a large fine and/or community service is all that's needed.

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