09:37, May 14 152 0 theguardian.com

2018-05-14 09:37:05
Ex-soldier guilty of racial hatred charge after CPS initially declined to prosecute

A far-right army veteran has been found guilty of stirring up racial hatred after the Crown Prosecution Service was pressured to reconsider its decision to not bring charges against him.

Jeremy Bedford-Turner, 48, called for his “soldiers” to liberate England from “Jewish control” in an address outside Downing Street and blamed Jews for issues ranging from both world wars to Jack the Ripper.

The CPS declined to prosecute after an initial complaint but reconsidered the decision after a group brought a legal challenge at the high court.

Bedford-Turner now faces up to seven years’ imprisonment after a jury at Southwark crown court on Monday found him guilty of one count of stirring up racial hatred after two hours of deliberation.

“Nice knowing you, chaps,” he told his supporters before entering the dock.

The 15-minute speech was made at a rally against Jewish neighbourhood watch group Shomrim in Whitehall on 4 July 2015.

Bedford-Turner, who served for 12 years in the army, and speaks Pashtu and Arabic, told the crowd: “Let’s free England from Jewish control. Let’s liberate this land. Listen, soldiers, listen to me. It’s time to liberate our country.”

Dozens of his supporters attended his two-day trial. Under cross-examination, he admitted that he wanted all Jews to leave the UK.

Louis Mably QC, prosecuting, said the defendant was obsessed with Jewish people and that he despised them.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) previously said it took the “unusual step” of bringing a judicial review after prosecutors declined to charge Bedford-Turner after an initial complaint.

“CAA was partly motivated by a growing concern that the CPS is failing to take antisemitic crime seriously,” a CAA spokesman said.

The CPS then said in March last year that it would get a more senior lawyer to review the case, and decided to press charges.

The case of Bedford-Turner, of no fixed abode, was adjourned until Monday afternoon when the judge will decide whether to sentence him at a later date.

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