Ex-National Front activist’s racist Facebook posts

A former National Front activist has been given a community order after he posted abusive comments on a Facebook page devoted to part of Carlisle.

Thirty-year-old Kevin Hartness, of Borland Avenue, Botcherby, wrote messages “of a racial nature with a sinister tone”, Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard.

The court heard how he made “disparaging remarks” about Polish people on a “Spotted Botch” page, some criticising them and calling on them to leave the area. Others were anti-Semitic and about World War Two.

Hartness, who represented himself and admitted sending menacing messages over a communications network, told police that he “used to be an active member of the National Front but doesn’t hold their views now”.

He also told them he was a skinhead when he was about 13.

Hartness said he admitted the comments he made about the Polish and the Jews and the war were unacceptable. “I don’t hold those views now and would like to apologise,” he told the court.

The court was told he has 15 previous convictions for 29 offences, some for football-related disorder and he was given a football banning order in 2009.

Pam Ward, prosecuting, told the court told there had been a mistake with the “administrator” of the site. “The posts he sent in were printed in full without any alteration, all his comments were there for the public to view,” she said.

Hartness said he thought the site was only for the people of Botcherby to air their views and make comments.

“I’ve maybe got a misunderstanding of how the site works,” he said.

“I thought I was just making comments for other people to get back to me, and have a whinge between folk on the estate.”

The court heard how some of the comments could be considered to “incite racial or religious hatred” so details of the case were sent by the local Crown Prosecution Service to the London office to consider the correct charge to bring against Hartness.

After reading pre-sentence reports from the probation service, magistrates sentenced him to a six-month community order and told him to complete 160 hours’ unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 and a £60 victim surcharge.

News & Star