Berger’s neo-Nazi twitter troll being jailed is ‘important precedent’
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Berger’s neo-Nazi twitter troll being jailed is ‘important precedent’

Shadow Mental Health Minister Luciana Berger.
Shadow Mental Health Minister Luciana Berger.
Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger.
Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger.

A judge handed the Jewish community an important new weapon in the battle against online hate this week when a Nazi sympathiser was jailed for sending virulently anti- Semitic tweets to a Jewish MP.

Politicians and police chiefs hailed the decision for setting “an important precedent” after 21-year-old Garron Helm was sentenced to four weeks in jail for using Twitter to show Labour front-bencher Luciana Berger with a Holocaust-era ‘Jude’ star superimposed onto her forehead.

Helm (pictured) sent the tweet under the hashtag “Hitler was right” and called the MP a “communist Jewess”. It added: “You can always trust a Jew to show their true colours eventually.”

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard that Helm sent the tweet in a state of “anger and political frustration” in the early hours of 7 August. But District Judge Andrew Shaw was not convinced, saying Helm’s actions were calculated and “extremely abusive and upsetting”.

The sentencing sparked a fresh wave of vile online abuse targeting the shadow public health minister. However, the ruling, which is believed to be the first time someone has been jailed for anti-Semitic statements made on social media, was praised as a turning point in the fight against racists and bigots online.

“The case has established an important precedent,” said John Mann MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism. 

1 5a-qcGXy
Garron Helm

“It should serve as a warning that, either online or offline, anti-Semitic and racist hatred is simply unacceptable and will be tackled head-on.”

Berger, the Liverpool Wavertree MP and Shadow Public Health Minister who was praised for her role in bringing the prosecution, was described as “deeply shocked by the entire incident” after police found Nazi memorabilia, including a flag bearing the SS symbol at Helm’s home.

Reacting to the case, she said: “This sentence sends a clear message that hate crime is not tolerated in our country. I hope it serves as an encouragement to others to report hate crime whenever it rears its ugly head.” Communities Minister Stephen Williams agreed, saying: “This shows there is no place for purveyors of hate to hide and sends a message that we are serious about ensuring that those involved are arrested and prosecuted.”

Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon, said: “This sentence represents a new weapon in the fight against those who think anti-Semitic messaging will be tolerated. We need to take this weapon forward to tackle all online race-hate crime.”

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “Hate crime is taken seriously by police and reports will be investigated thoroughly. The prosecution of offences on social media is subject to stringent guidelines.”

This is not the first time Berger has been involved in a court case regarding anti-Semitism against her. In 2013, a Merseyside music promoter was fined £120 after telling her he “hated” Jewish people.

Claire Lindley, Chief Prosecutor at the Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said this week’s case crossed a line. “Freedom of speech must be upheld,” she said.

“But this was so grossly offensive that it crossed the threshold of criminality and was clearly targeted at Luciana Berger because of her religion.”

She added: “Some people think they can send whatever they like into cyberspace and won’t be caught. Well they are wrong and this prosecution proves it.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments