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Hate Crime

Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins
  • religion
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age

Find out more about how we prosecute hate crime

Two guilty of inciting racial hatred against Jews

08/01/2009

Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle have been convicted of inciting racial hatred against Jews and other minority ethnic groups using material which the Crown Prosecution Service said crossed the line from unpleasant and obnoxious to a criminal offence.

Reviewing lawyer Mari Reid, of the CPS' Counter Terrorism Division said: "People are entitled to hold racist and extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious. What they are not entitled to do is to publish or distribute those opinions to the public in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner either intending to stir up racial hatred or in circumstances where it is likely racial hatred will be stirred up.

"The vast majority of the material in this case concerned Jewish people, but there was also material relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic people generally, all described in derogatory terms using offensive language.

"As well as printed leaflets, there was evidence of Simon Sheppard controlling websites which featured racist material, some of it written by Whittle, under the pen name of Luke O'Farrell."

The prosecution alleged three kinds of offences:

  • publishing racially inflammatory material;
  • distributing racially inflammatory material;
  • possessing racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution.

Simon Sheppard was found guilty of 11 offences and Stephen Whittle was found guilty of five offences in July 2008. The jury was unable to agree a verdict on a further seven charges against Simon Sheppard and it was decided to have a retrial on six of these charges. The retrial began in December 2008.

The investigation into Simon Sheppard 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 Synagogue in Blackpool. It was traced back to a Post Office Box in Hull registered to Simon Sheppard.

Mrs Reid said: "That leaflet went much further than simply denying the Holocaust, which is not in itself an offence in this country. The whole subject was treated in a way that was insulting and abusive and as a subject for humour. Another example was a leaflet called "Ohdruff, Auschwitz Holiday Resort" where the general theme is that Auschwitz was in fact a holiday camp provided by the Nazi regime and to which Jews from all over Europe came to enjoy a free holiday.

"This case has taken a long time to come court, partly due to legal argument which took place over many months before the trial. This focussed primarily on arguments about jurisdiction, the status of Jews as an ethnic group, religious group or both, and whether evidence of a Holocaust denier was admissible.

"The judge decided that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case and that the status of Jews was a question of fact for the jury. The evidence of the Holocaust denier was ruled inadmissible.

"We responded to all the legal arguments put forward by the defence; we were determined to pursue this case as we felt that this material was at the more serious end of the scale.

"Both juries saw some thoroughly unpleasant material which contained views which most people would find obnoxious and abhorrent. We would like to thank them for performing their duty in this case and also those witnesses who came forward in both trials to talk about the racially inflammatory material they received."

Ends

  1. Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle were charged with a total of 18 offences under the Public Order Act 1986. Simon Sheppard alone was charged with 13 offences and they were jointly charged with five offences.
  2. The first trial began on 3 June 2008 at Leeds Crown Court. The retrial, involving Simon Sheppard only, began on 8 December 2008. He was convicted on 8 January 2009 of five charges; one charge was dismissed after legal argument during the retrial. The retrial was held in the absence of Simon Sheppard as he and Stephen Whittle fled to America before the jury returned verdicts in the first trial. They are currently in the hands of the US immigration authorities.
  3. The CPS Counter-Terrorism Division deals with crimes of racial hatred, offical secrets, war crimes, as well as terrorism cases.
  4. For further information contact the CPS Press Office, 020 7796 8180.
  5. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  6. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  7. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. The Protocol is published on our website at: