U.K. Counterterrorism Investigation Leads to Hate Crime Conviction

Following an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) in the U.K., a man has been convicted of hate crime offenses.

Tobias Powell, aged 32, of Bognor Regis, West Sussex was found guilty of four counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior intending thereby to stir up racial hatred, or where have regards to all the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby contrary to section 19 (1) of the Public Order Act 1986.

He appeared at Worthing Magistrates Court on April 16.

Powell published a series of social media posts between July and October 2018, which showed support to right wing ideology and had racist connotations. In a series of tweets, which he sent between July 31 2018 and October 8 2018, Powell called for a civil war to stop the ethnic suicide of white people; showed support for the terrorist organization National Action; and shared a picture of his tattoo which contained the Nazi emblem.

Detectives from CTPSE conducted a warrant at Powell’s home on February 13 2019 and arrested him. During a search of the house a number of items were seized, including numerous literatures on white supremacy and a number of electronic devices.

Upon further investigation of the devices, it was uncovered that Powell had set up his Apple ID name as Adolf Hitler, talked on Twitter about White Power, wrote an email to the then Prime Minister Theresa May calling her a snake in a message titled ‘Brexit Stich up’ and wrote a letter to MP Nick Gibbs about his continued concerns over Sharia Law.

In a tweet on July 6 2018 Powell mentioned MP Joanne Cox, who was murdered by a man holding right wing views, saying she was an ‘alleged open traitor and enemy of the people.’

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, Head of CTPSE, said: “The evidence gathered during the investigation showed that Powell had some very unacceptable views.

“Whilst this was not a terrorism case, the nature of the rhetoric Powell had shared on social media, meant that it was only right for specialist officers from Counter Terrorism Policing to conduct a thorough investigation.

“We know there is a fine line between hate speech and terrorism. Showing support for terrorist organizations is not acceptable and if you do that, you should expect to be investigated by us.

“Police are committed to tackling all forms of toxic ideology which has the potential to threaten public safety and security.

“Where there is evidence that a group has been involved in terrorism, the Home Office will act swiftly to halt the spread of their poisonous ideology by proscribing them. Groups that do not meet the threshold for proscription are not free to spread hatred, fund terrorist activity or incite violence as they please. The police have comprehensive powers to take action against individuals under the criminal law.”

Chief Inspector Jon Carter, Arun and Chichester District Commander for Sussex Police, said: “This case shows the importance of thorough investigation of any use of the Internet to spread hate and dangerous material. The public can be reassured that there are systems in place to follow up all such reports, but it is also important to reassure local people that this was a very isolated matter for this area, and that however obnoxious Powell’s language was, there was no reference to or threat to the local community.”

Powell is due to be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on May 14.

Read the announcement at Counter Terrorism Policing

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