Two men have been jailed after becoming the first in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred via a foreign website.
Simon Sheppard received four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle two years and four months. The men printed leaflets and controlled US websites featuring racist material.
They fled to the US after being convicted at Leeds Crown Court last year, but failed in an asylum bid.
Sheppard was found guilty of 11 offences and Whittle was found guilty of five offences at a trial in July last year. Sheppard was convicted of a further five charges in January 2009.
Leeds Crown Court was told Whittle wrote offensive articles that were then published on the internet by Sheppard. The published material included images of murdered Jews alongside cartoons and articles ridiculing ethnic groups.
Judge Rodney Grant said: These are serious offences. I can say without any hesitation that I have rarely seen, or had to read or consider, material which is so abusive and insulting... towards racial groups within our own society.
The investigation into Sheppard began when a complaint about a leaflet, called Tales of the Holohoax , was reported to police in 2004 after it was pushed through the door of a synagogue in Blackpool. It was traced back to a post office box in Hull
registered to Sheppard. Humberside Police later found a website featuring racially inflammatory material.
The pair thought that they could circumvent English law because their website was hosted in the US.
Comment: Holocaust denial via the back door
11th July 2009. From Phantom on the Melon Farmers Forum
This looks like a outlawing of holocaust denial via the back door.
It also is a tightening up on existing standards of freedom of expression. The moment you voice anything abusive or insulting you're taking a step closer to jail.
Billy Connelly, Frankie Boyle and Roy Chubby Brown better take note. They are inches away from being outlawed.
I'm sorry, but in my mind's eye, we're hitting a serious wall here.
Just recently we've had a guy sentenced to one and a half years of supervision and re-education meetings for being curious about an aspect of bizarre adult sexuality.
Now we've just had a guy sentenced to four and a half years in jail for not liking Jews and saying as much.
I have at times myself been the man with the wrong face and name in the wrong place, so I'm no friend to prejudice and xenophobia of any kind. But I've always understood that the price of freedom is to let those of an opposing opinion speak. This
includes narrow-minded people with little more than hate between their ears.
Yet it seems these days - especially with this government - argument is being closed down (just look what they allow for debate in the commons!) and instead bans and prohibitions are the preferred norm. Who needs Perikles or Cicero
if you can just ban anyone from making wrong choices?
I really think we are witnesses to something very bad happening here, people.
Comment: Lost Appeal
1st February 2010. See article
Two men have lost their appeals against the UK's first conviction for inciting racial hatred via a foreign website.
Simon Sheppard was sentenced to four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle to two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court in July.
However, the Court of Appeal has reduced Sheppard's sentence by one year and Whittle's jail term by six months.