The massed ranks of the Aryan Strike Force (ASF) and the British Freedom Force (BFF) have suffered a body blow as ‘Wigan’ Mike Heaton and Trevor ‘Fist’ Hannington have been sent down for racist comments posted on the internet.
At Liverpool Crown today Michael Heaton was sentenced to 30 months and Trevor Hannington to 2 years. They were cleared of soliciting murder but were convicted of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to stir up racial hatred. It was no real surprise but what is interesting is if any further charges are pressed over similar Nazi websites. Certainly, when Heaton and Hannington were first arrested several posters on the various Nazi forums started quailing: “If they can get Mike for what he has said on the net then they can get all or the majority of us I would wager.” Heaton and Hannington have a long history of far-right activity and have been filmed on EDL demos. The EDL website claims that although Heaton was on the earlier demos and the forum he has since been booted off. So we can safely assume Heaton is not going to be seen on any of their demo’s for a while. Unless they start a Prison Division.
There remains a singular unanswered question: why, when Heaton was arrested and then bailed was Hannington remanded. Both have previous convictions. This was going to be ‘explained’ but there has been little to clarify. Nazi Liam Pinkam wrote: “the BFF will be releasing a statement about it either today or tomorrow.” This never appeared. (Pinkham was nicked with Heaton in Blackpool at a BNP do last year and has since been booted out of the BFF after being accused of passing info to the cops and having an underage girlfriend. These rumours are being spread without being substantiated.)
Heaton was involved in the ASF and the BFF. The ASF website “encourages unity, and with our alliance with the RVF, the ASF, welcomes like minded people.” There are always suspicions that the more rabid organisations are state set-ups designed to monitor and contain Nazis, as Combat 18 was thought to be. The BFF website is chock full of dreadful White Noise bands and rhetoric and states that the main enemy are actually white people: “we have the commies, the reds, Antifa, most are white, and there [sic] a minor threat, but our biggest threat is ourselves, so called comrades, nationalists, the infighting is amazing.” The BFF also rue the ever present Nazi factionalism then post a link to a website smearing Kevin Watmough the founder of Redwatch, part of C18 and a member of the tiny BPP (formerly the WNP). The site accuses him of going out with a Gypsy “Yes a proper gypsy” and of being “A Liar, A Cheat, A Rapist and long time Agent Provocateur.”
The Heaton and Hannington convictions follow on from the Sheppard and Whittle duo who were jailed for their website outpourings last year. Sheppard and Whittle had legged it to the States in 2008 hoping to evade the charges but they were extradited and forced to stand trial. They are currently appealing against their prison sentences. 2 weeks ago the father-son terror-clown act in Newcastle were jailed over the ASF website and for possessing ricin amongst other things. There have always been violent extremists in the Nazi scene who are prepared to escalate the ‘race war’: BNP member Terrence Gavan was sentenced to 11 years for possession of explosives and firearms; BNP senior Tony Lecomber was convicted on explosives charges in 1985; ‘London nail bomber’ David Copeland was jailed for murder in 1999; Stuart Kerr, a fan of BNP and Combat 18, was jailed for bombing an Asian shop in the same year; David Tovey was jailed 2 years later for stockpiling explosive material; Robert Cottage and David Jackson were done for explosives in 2006; in the same year John Laidlaw was jailed for a shooting spree in north London; Allen Boyce and Terry Collins were both convicted on explosives charges; and last week hedgerow terrorist David Lucas got a guilty verdict for gunpowder and ammo.
The Cops & The EDL
In Channel 4’s panicky report Heaton and Hannington on Thursday it was interesting to note the reaction of the cops. The current police line is that the EDL have “1 or 2 extremists” but are mostly okay. This new ‘softly softly approach’ started after the EDL leadership were arrested in Scotland and taken back to Sheffield which begs several questions: Why arrest them? Why Sheffield? Was it uniform or Special Branch? Why the sudden turnaround by the cops in Bolton with mass arrests of anti-fascists? Why are the EDL being allowed to turn up in Whitechapel and not prevented from organising in Bradford both of which are sensitive areas guaranteed to kick off? Without getting too conspiracy theory about it, did the police offer a softer line on the EDL in exchange for info on hardcore hooligans before the World Cup as well as on Nazi extremists who the EDL leaders profess to dislike anyway? Without doubt the EDL serve to divide communities and are politically and economically useful at the moment: the EDL enflame Islamophobia which is necessary to continue the otherwise unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as gaining support in any forthcoming conflict with Iran. However, they also increase the ‘need for surveillance’ and stronger legislation on public assembly which will work against them.
The other question that remains is that of web content. With Sheppard and Whittle behind bars and Heaton and Hannington about to sample HMP's finest cuisine for the next year or so how does this affect the other extreme websites. On places like VNN and Stormfront there are many threads that, late at night, ‘having strong drink taken’ descend into amusing bitchiness and not-so-amusing threats, racist outpourings and vile anti-Semitism. The EDL are not exempt either with current threads like ‘***k Palestine’ and ‘how many uaf are gonna get done over today.’ Having achieved a couple of high profile convictions, are the cops going to be trawling through the sites and trying to secure a few more promotion boosting arrests? This affects militant anti-fascists as well as nutjob fascists. Posters beware!
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