Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Men convicted of race hate crimes

Two men have been convicted of publishing "obnoxious and abhorrent" racist material.

Simon Sheppard, 51, of Brook Street, Selby, and Stephen Whittle, 41, of Avenham Lane, Preston, have been found guilty of a number of offences.

A trial at Leeds Crown Court heard they printed leaflets and controlled websites featuring racist material.

The pair, who are currently in the hands of US immigration authorities, will be sentenced in March.

Both juries saw some thoroughly unpleasant material which contained views which most people would find obnoxious and abhorrent
CPS lawyer Mari Reid

Sheppard and Whittle were originally convicted of race-hate offences at a trial in July last year.

At an earlier hearing, Sheppard was found guilty of 11 offences and Whittle was found guilty of five offences.

The jury was unable to agree a verdict on a further seven charges against Sheppard and it was decided he would face a retrial on six of these charges.

The retrial began on 8 December and concluded on Thursday.

It was held in the absence of Sheppard as he and Whittle fled to America before the jury returned verdicts in the first trial.

The court heard the investigation into Sheppard began when a complaint about a leaflet called "Tales of the Holohoax" was reported to the police in 2004 after it was pushed through the door of a Synagogue in Blackpool.

It was traced back to a post office box in Hull registered to Sheppard.

Pen name

Reviewing lawyer Mari Reid, of the CPS's Counter Terrorism Division, said: "People are entitled to hold racist and extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious.

"What they are not entitled to do is to publish or distribute those opinions to the public in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner either intending to stir up racial hatred or in circumstances where it is likely racial hatred will be stirred up.

"The vast majority of the material in this case concerned Jewish people, but there was also material relating to black, Asian and non-white people generally, all described in derogatory terms using offensive language.

"As well as printed leaflets, there was evidence of Simon Sheppard controlling websites which featured racist material, some of it written by Whittle, under the pen name of Luke O'Farrell."

The pair were charged with publishing racially inflammatory material, distributing racially inflammatory material and possessing racially inflammatory material with a view to distribution.

Mrs Reid said: "Both juries saw some thoroughly unpleasant material which contained views which most people would find obnoxious and abhorrent."

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