January 6, 2022 12.38 pm

Right-wing extremist makes “encouraging” progress reading classic novels after bizarre judge ruling

He admitted to preferring Shakespeare to Jane Austen

A Lincoln man convicted of terrorism offences and told to read classic English literature by a judge is said to be making “encouraging” progress with his reading.

Ben John, 21, of Addison Drive in Lincoln, was found guilty of one count of having in his possession a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, and given a two year suspended prison sentence in August last year.

He had become a part of the Extreme Right Wing online, a group which hold negative viewpoints on race and nationality, as well as championing fascism and Neo Nazism.

Forensic computer investigators found a hard drive in his possession, which contained a radical publication called the Anarchy Cookbook 2000, as well as documents with a wealth of white supremacist content, and even some with links to Satanic organisations.

In a rare condition alongside his sentencing, the judge ordered Ben John to read classic English literature from the likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare rather than being jailed, in the hope it will be of more interest to him than the radical documents he had in his possession at the time of arrest.

National advocacy group Hope not Hate issued an open letter to the Attorney General’s office asking for a review of the sentencing, describing it as “obscenely lenient”.

This did not prompt change to the sentencing, and at the first review hearing, held at Leicester Crown Court, the judge quizzed John on his literature and asked him to make a list of all the books he had read.

John said he had “enjoyed Shakespeare more than Jane Austen”, and the judge was said to be ‘encouraged’ by the progress he was making.

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