Searchlight Magazine

Race hate internet warrior Simon Sheppard returns to prison

One of the first two Britons to be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred on the internet has been returned to prison after breaching his licence conditions. Simon Sheppard had been released in May 2011 after serving less than half his sentence, but was classed as a Multi Agency Public Protection Agency level 3 offender and faced stringent restrictions because of the high risk he posed to the public. In particular he was not allowed to distribute racially inflammatory material.

Sheppard, 55, was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court in July 2008 of 11 counts of publishing racially inflammatory material on his Heretical Press website. His co-defendant Stephen Whittle, who used the pseudonym Luke O’Farrell, was found guilty of five counts of publishing racially inflammatory material in articles he wrote for Sheppard’s site.

The prosecution was novel in that the Heretical Press site is hosted in the USA. British nazis had believed, wrongly as it turned out, that if they hosted their racist ravings on US web servers they would be immune from prosecution.

After the jury returned verdicts on some of the charges the two were released on bail and fled to the United States where they sought asylum. An immigration judge threw out their case and they were held at Santa Ana prison in California for ten months until their extradition. In July 2009, Sheppard was imprisoned for four years and ten months, which was reduced by one year on appeal. Whittle got two years and four months, reduced by six months on appeal.

His arrest for “poor conduct” came on 25 January. He had written an article on “spree killers” for issue 52 of Heritage and Destiny, a small circulation far-right magazine edited by Mark Cotterill, leader of the deregistered England First Party. He had received advance clearance from the probation service to have the article published, but the breach arose when he distributed copies of it to two staff in his local library. They contacted police because they found one passage offensive, namely: “What more profound insult can be delivered to a man than for a woman to advertise that she prefers men of an alien race, even one who a century ago would have been regarded as no better than a savage.”

Sheppard argues in the article that “spree killers” such as Anders Breivik are reacting to the expropriation of their women as a result of “mass immigration and miscengenation which strikes deeply at the core of the male psyche”, concluding that they “fight to preserve the integrity of the tribe” and other such nonsense.

Whittle too had had fallen foul of his licence conditions at his local library after being released on licence in 2010. Librarians spotted him looking at the BNP website. He was imprisoned for a further three months.

Sheppard was being held in HM Prison Hull, according to Paul Ballard, a veteran National Front activist in London, but is now understood to be in HM Prison Northallerton. He may remain there until the end of his sentence on 16 April 2013.

Sheppard had been a prolific online publisher. As well as Holocaust denial, he displayed a hatred of women and a morbid fixation with cannibalism.

The original investigation into the pair began when police received a complaint about a viciously antisemitic comic strip that denied the Holocaust. Copies of Tales of the Holohoax were mailed to the Blackpool Reform Synagogue in 2004. Its first page consisted of a cartoon captioned “Alice in lampshade land”. It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard.

Other articles over which Sheppard was charged included “Auschwitz: The Holiday Camp for Kikes”, “Evil Zionist Kikes” and “Kike Windchimes”. The jury was also asked to deliberate on several cartoon strips by the American cartoonist Robert Crumb drawn during the 1960s and reproduced on Sheppard’s site, including “When the goddamn Jews take over America!” and “When the niggers take over America!”. Sheppard also published vile material by George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party (ANP), including the “Coon-ard Lines Boat Ticket to Africa” and spoof “year’s supply of instant nigger” advertisement.

One leaflet claimed that Auschwitz had not been the location of mass genocide but was instead a holiday camp provided by a benevolent Nazi regime for Europe’s Jewish population. Another story was illustrated with photographs of dead Jews. Sheppard also wrote that the diary of Anne Frank was “evil”.

During the trial, the prosecutor, Jonathan Sandiford, told that jury that Sheppard and Whittle were “a pair of racists” who held “fairly extreme views about people who were Jewish, black, Asian, Chinese, Indian and, in reality, anyone who wasn’t white”.

He continued: “People in this country are entitled to be racist and they are entitled to hold unpleasant points of view, but what they aren’t entitled to do is publish or distribute written material which is insulting, threatening or abusive and is intended to stir up racial hatred or is likely to do so.”

In January 2009, Sheppard was convicted in his absence of five further charges. Two of them related to two editions of an anti-Jewish publication titled Don’t Be Sheeple, the second of which was produced after Sheppard had been charged for the other offences.

Sheppard has a history of similar offences. He was jailed in the Netherlands in 1995 for Holocaust denial and received a nine-month sentence in June 1999 for distributing antisemitic leaflets in Hull with Dave Hannam. At the time both were British National Party activists. Sheppard was expelled from the BNP, but Hannam, who was jailed for three months, went on to become the BNP’s treasurer and a close confidant of party leader Nick Griffin, who himself has a conviction for inciting racial hatred.

Until his imprisonment in 2009, as well as maintaining his own Heretical Press site, Sheppard made himself indispensable as the front man and registrant for a number of far-right websites including the notorious Redwatch, an online “hit list” that publishes names and addresses of political opponents under the banner: “Remember places, traitors’ faces, they’ll all pay for their crimes”. 

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