December 01, 2009

Web racists challenge convictions

Sheppard (left) and Whittle were jailed after a failed bid to seek asylum in the US
Two men have started appeals against the UK's first convictions for inciting racial hatred via a foreign website

Simon Sheppard, 51, was sentenced to four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle, 42, to two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court in July.

Sheppard, from Selby, North Yorks, and Whittle, of Preston, Lancs, controlled US websites featuring racist material. Sheppard's counsel Adrian Davies told the Appeal Court on Thursday the sites were "entirely lawful" in the US. He said that there was no evidence that anyone in England and Wales - except for the police officer in the case - had ever seen any of them.

Referring to the jailed UK extremist Muslim cleric Mr Davies said: "Despite this, Mr Sheppard has been sentenced to a longer term of imprisonment than Abu Hamza," he told the court. "These are matters which, in my submission, ought to attract the closest and most careful scrutiny of the court of the supposed legal basis of these convictions."

During their first trial in 2008, Sheppard and Whittle had skipped bail and fled to California, where they sought asylum claiming they were being persecuted for their right-wing views. However, they were subsequently deported back to the UK.

The investigation began when a complaint about a leaflet called "Tales of the Holohoax" was reported to the police in 2004 after it was pushed through the door of a Blackpool synagogue. It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard. Police later found published material including grotesque images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.

The pair were charged under the Public Order Act with publishing racially inflammatory material, distributing racially inflammatory material and possessing racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution. Sheppard, of Brook Street, Selby, was found guilty of 16 offences and Whittle, of Avenham Lane, Preston, was found guilty of five. Sentencing, Judge Rodney Grant said that he had rarely seen material which was so abusive and insulting.

At the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Mr Davies said that the Act did not contemplate a situation where publication was in an electronic form but only in "hard copy" form. And publication did not result merely when a website was set up but only when someone actually looked at it.

The hearing continues.



bickelstaff said...

Please don't call them 'asylum seekers' - they are 'illegal immigrants'. Does their eventual deportation not make their claim 'bogus'? Use the terminology of the Right for the Right. Did these guys pay for their stay in a California detention centre? If not, then they were abusing honest Amercian taxpayers. Does that not make them 'spongers'? Why could they not find sanctuary in one of the many countries that lie between the UK and the USA? Surely the Right would object to this behaviour on the same basis that they do not want Afghani refugees in the UK?

I hope this pair rots in jail, but thank them for again exposing the hypocrisy of the Right

Anonymous said...

Are there any countries (apart from Ireland) that lie between the UK and USA? lol