STATE OF HATE 2024 Feature


A RECORD number of far-right activists and sympathisers were convicted of terror offences in 2023, surpassing the previous year, which was already a record high. Twenty-three people were convicted of offences from sharing online terror videos to disseminating and encouraging terrorism via podcasts.

While the number of convicted far-right activists is higher, so too is the average age of those convicted. In 2022, the average age of those convicted was 29, last year it was 32. Three of those arrested were over 60 years of age, with another three over 40. Only four of those convicted were teenagers, compared to nine in 2022.

None of those convicted carried out a terrorist act, or even an equally violent attack, though several were caught in the preparation of such offences. Ex-soldier William Howitt planned to burn down a left-wing bookshop in Nottingham before he was arrested. Ben Styles was caught with a home-made sub-machine in garage and Charles Cannon was found guilty of collecting instructions on how to make explosives and weapons whilst talking “enthusiastically about stabbing asylum seekers”.

Several of those convicted were linked to, or supported, far right groups. Possibly the most high profile of those convicted was Kristofer Kearney, an activist with Patriotic Alternative who, after a long extradition process from Spain, pleaded guilty to sharing Telegram posts glorifying and encouraging extreme right-wing terror attacks, and encouraging attacks on Jews and Muslims.

Another Patriotic Alternative supporter convicted was former prison officer Ashley Podsiad-Sharp, who was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for possessing a terrorist handbook. Like Kearny, Podsiad-Sharp had been a National Action supporter, before switching allegiance to Patriotic Alternative.

In addition to those convicted, several people who had either previously committed terrorist offences, some who were out on licence, were returned to prison after committing further offences.

One of these was Harry Vaughan who, in 2020, was given a suspended sentence despite admitting 14 terrorism offences and two of possessing indecent images of children. He was imprisoned in November after admitting further crimes including making an indecent photograph of a child.

There was deep disquiet when Vaughan only received a suspended sentence, with many critical of the judge, believing that he was given a particularly lenient sentence compared to others who received custodial sentences for far less. The judge in the case described Vaughan, who went to an elite school and whose father worked as a clerk at the House of Lords, was a “very intelligent young man” but he “now has convictions for terrorist offences which will stay with him for life and I think that is a saddening case and also a salutary example of how this can affect young people.”

Clearly, the suspended sentence Vaughan received in 2020 did little to reduce his paedophilic instincts.

In previous State of Hate reports we have noted that much of the increase in the terrorist convictions of far right activists and sympathisers was down to new legislation and more aggressive enforcement.

In the 1990s, when Combat 18 was the primary nazi group in Britain, the glorification and promotion of terrorism, including the circulation of bomb manuals and hitlists, were commonplace yet, at most, people received minimal sentences on incitement to racial hatred charges.

The rise in terror convictions comes as 6,817 referrals to Prevent to the year end of 31 March 2023, an increase of 6.4% on the previous year and the third highest number since figures were first recorded in 2015/16. For the third year running, the number of referrals for Extreme Right Wing concerns (1,310 – 19%) was greater than those for Islamist concerns (781 – 11%).

The largest increase in referrals came from the Education sector, which accounted for 2,684 referrals, 39% of the total. Ninety per cent of referrals were men and 32% were aged between 15 and 20 years old. Only slightly fewer, 31%, were aged under 14.

According to the Home Office, as of 30 June 2023, there were 234 people in custody for terrorism- connected offences in Great Britain. Of these, 152 (65%) were categorised as holding Islamist-extremist views and further 63 (27%) were categorised as holding Extreme Right-Wing ideologies. The remaining 19 prisoners (8%) were categorised as holding beliefs related to other ideologies.

However, the internet and the global nature of the nazi terror movement means there is far more extreme and violent content in circulation and much of it of a terrorist nature. Terrorist atrocities are shared and glorified and fantasies and plots are disseminated.

As the British far right becomes ever more confident and as the political and media discourse around immigration and Muslims gets even more toxic, so it is unsurprising that some far right activists and sympathisers dream of, promote or plot terrorism.



“State of HATE 2024: Pessimism, Decline, and the Rising Radical Right” is available now. This guide offers the most comprehensive and insightful analysis of far-right extremism in Britain today. Secure your free copy now.



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