“Have you read Dickens? Austin?” a UK judge asked a neo-Nazi during his sentencing hearing, ordering him to do so for a test in January.
By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News.
Britain’s Attorney General has asked the Court of Appeal to review a sentence handed to a former student convicted under anti-terrorism legislation after the 21-year-old was told to read classic novels.
Ben John, described by police as a white supremacist with neo-Nazi tendencies, was handed a two-year suspended sentence in August. He was found guilty of possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, the BBC reported.
Police told the court that John had gathered some 67,788 documents containing “a wealth” of white supremacist and anti-Semitic materials, bulk downloaded on to hard drives. They included diagrams and instructions for manufacturing explosive devices.
However, although the charge, under the Terrorism Act, carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence, John was given a two-year suspended sentence, was handed a five-year serious crime prevention order, and was told to read classical works before returning to the court in January.
“Have you read Dickens?” Judge Timothy Spencer QC is reported to have asked John during the sentencing hearing, according to Jewish News.
“Austen? Start with Pride And Prejudice and Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Think about Hardy. Think about Trollope.
“On January 4 you will tell me what you have read and I will test you on it.”
Nick Lowles, chief executive of left-wing lobby group Hope Not Hate, wrote an open letter following the sentencing, stating: “A suspended sentence and a suggested reading list of English classics for a terror conviction is unduly lenient for a crime of this nature.
“This sentence is sending a message that violent right-wing extremists may be treated leniently by the courts.”
Attorney General Suella Braverman appears to have agreed; her office has asked for the case to be looked at under the unduly lenient sentence (ULS) scheme.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said: “I can confirm that the Attorney General has referred Ben John’s sentence to the Court of Appeal as she agrees that it appears unduly lenient.
“It is now for the Court to decide whether to increase the sentence.”