Coronavirus conspiracy theorist spread racial hatred online, court hears

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Coronavirus conspiracy theorist spread racial hatred online, court hears

Fair-right activist Matthew Henegan accused of sharing material that 'referred to his belief that Jewish people were behind news stories about Covid, controlled the media, and were evil.'

Lady Justice (Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)
Lady Justice (Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)

A far-right coronavirus conspiracist spread antisemitic hoax theories among neighbours and online, a court has heard.

Matthew Henegan, 36, is accused of stirring up racial hatred via the internet and in leaflets posted to residents of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, during the Covid-19 crisis in March last year.

He is also charged with having a terrorist document on how to make armour-piercing ammunition.

Prosecutor Julia Faure Walker said: “In March 2020, the defendant, Matthew Henegan, published and distributed a range of material which, the prosecution suggest, was threatening, abusive and insulting, and intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

“The material referred to his belief that Jewish people were behind the news stories about the coronavirus, controlled the media, and were evil.

“Throughout the material he referred to k****, a derogatory term for Jewish people.”

The court heard how the material came to the attention of Cambridgeshire Police in mid-March last year after residents reported receiving “offensive and antisemitic” leaflets through their letter boxes.

They included links to video and audio files allegedly posted by Henegan on a website which were racially inflammatory.

On April 17 last year, police searched Henegan’s home and also uncovered a large number of leaflets, jurors heard.

A document entitled Coronavirus Hoax supplement was posted online on March 9 last year and viewed 95 times.

It included material referring to antisemitic themes and admiration for Adolf Hitler, the court was told.

Two days later, another document appeared online suggesting the Fishmongers’ Hall terror attack, in which two innocent people were killed, was “set up” by a propaganda machine.

Another claim suggested that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was Jewish and an attempt had been made to pass him off as English, the jury was told.

The author of the document referred to himself as a National Socialist, the court was told.

On March 13 last year, a three-hour long video entitled “Corona Virus Hoax” was posted on the same website.

It was tagged with the words Corona Virus, Adolph Hitler (sic), Nazi, Jews, and Mein Kampf.

In it, Henegan talks into the camera and encourages people to deny any coronavirus curfew, the court heard.

Following his arrest, the defendant protested his innocence and denied having a problem with the Jewish community, the Old Bailey heard.

On CCTV allegedly showing him leafleting in St Neots, he told police he delivered “the truth” and would have found the information “somewhat enlightening” had he received it.

Henegan went on to described Jewish people as “a bunch of criminals” and defined “The Establishment” as a “gathering of K**** and Masons”, the jury was told.

He claimed Hitler was “clearly a righteous person” and said a passage in an online video commanding the slaughter Jewish people were “the words of a wise person”.

Henegan, from St Neots, denies possessing, distributing and publishing documents inciting racial hatred and possessing a terrorist document.

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