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Max Hill: Britain faces a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism

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Britain faces a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism which has surged in the wake of last year's attacks on Manchester and London, watchdog warns

  • Max Hill QC said the UK now faces a 'considerable' threat by far right fanatics
  • Dozens were killed and many more injured in four deadly terror attacks in 2017 
  • The government's independent terror watchdog, said terror arrests surged

By Kate Ferguson, Political Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 09:35 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 12:22 EDT, 10 October 2018

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Islamist terrorism is the biggest threat facing Britain - but the country is at growing risk from right-wing fanatics, the UK's terror watchdog today warns. 

Max Hill QC, Britain's independent reviewer of terror legislation, used his final report to warn that the threat from extreme right-wing terrorism is now 'considerable'. 

And he also warned that sectarian violence in Northern Ireland continues to pose a risk after it surged in recent years.

Mr Hill said the right-wing terror threat has grown as part of a backlash against the bloody Islamist terror attacks on London and Manchester last year, which killed dozens and injured many more.

He also revealed that the number of terror arrests rose dramatically last year as Britain was struck by four deadly attacks across the two cities.

His annual report lays bare the sheer scale of the violent threat which lurks on Britain's streets.

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Britain is facing a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism which has surged in the wake of last year's attacks on London and Manchester, Britain's terror watchdog today warned (pictured, an armed police officer stands guard in Manchester after last year's terror attack)
Britain is facing a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism which has surged in the wake of last year's attacks on London and Manchester, Britain's terror watchdog today warned (pictured, an armed police officer stands guard in Manchester after last year's terror attack)

Britain is facing a growing threat from extreme right-wing terrorism which has surged in the wake of last year's attacks on London and Manchester, Britain's terror watchdog today warned (pictured, an armed police officer stands guard in Manchester after last year's terror attack)

The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox (pictured) shocked the political establishment and the country
The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox (pictured) shocked the political establishment and the country
Thomas Mair (pictured) was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Jo Cox
Thomas Mair (pictured) was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Jo Cox

Labour MP Jo Cox (pictured outside Parliament) was murdered by far right fanatic Thomas Mair (pictured right) shortly before the Brexit referendum in 2016

Mr Hill said: 'The threat we face from extreme right wing terrorism within the UK is considerable, and in my clear view it has grown in reaction to the terrorist atrocities on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and at Manchester Arena last year.

What were the terror attacks which hit Britain in 2017? 

Here is the list of terror attacks which wreaked carnage on Britain's streets in 2017?

Westminster, March 22 

Khalid Masood struck at the heart of British democracy - the Houses of Parliament

He drove a hire car across Westminster Bridge, killing four pedestrians on the pavement and injuring dozens more.

He then leapt out of his crashed car and ran into Parliament where he stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer. 

Manchester, 22 May

Salman Abedi blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester killing 22 people - including many children.    

The youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, was just eight years old.

London Bridge, June 3  

Three killers ploughed their cars int pedestrians in London Bridge before going on a bloody knife rampage in Borough Market. 

Rachid Redouane, Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghba - who were all wearing fake explosive vests - killed eight people before they were shot dead by armed police.

Finsbury Park, June 19 

Far-right fanatic Darren Osborne drove his van into a Mosque in Finsbury Park, killing father-of-six Makram Ali and injuring several others. 

'Terrorism takes many forms. Extreme right wing ideology breeds terrorism, and must be dealt with comprehensively.' 

He added: 'Daesh continued to represent the most significant terrorist threat, but not the only threat. 

'Beneath that overall headline, the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Great Britain remained at Substantial, meaning an attack was a strong possibility, and the threat in Northern Ireland remained at Severe throughout 2017. 

'Further, the UK faced a continuing threat of violence and terrorism from extremism, including the extreme right wing and far right. 

'Evidence for this is provided by the proscription of the extreme right wing group National Action in December 2016.'    

He also revealed that the number of terror arrests dramatically increased last year - rising from 261 in 2016 to 412 in 2017. 

Mr Hill's report is his final assessment as the government's independent reviewer of terror legislation before he moves to become the lead the Crown Prosecution Service.

He will become director of public prosecutions, replacing Alison Saunders in the senior post. 

Mrs Saunders was forced to deny she had been forced out of the job amid widespread criticism at a string of failed prosecutions.

She had presided over scandals on collapsed rape cases and false child sexual abuse allegations, and budget and staff cuts.

Mr Hill was appointed the UK's terror watchdog in February last year - and was in post for one of the bloodiest years on Britain's streets for some time.

The UK was hit by five major terror attacks last year - causing carnage which killed dozens and injured many more.

The year of bloodshed began on March 22 last year when Khalid Masood struck at the heart of British democracy - the Houses of Parliament.

Who is Max Hill QC, the independent reviewer of terror law? 

Max Hill (file picture) was appointed the Government's independent reviewer of terror legislation in February 2017 - a turbulent and deadly year for Britain's streets
Max Hill (file picture) was appointed the Government's independent reviewer of terror legislation in February 2017 - a turbulent and deadly year for Britain's streets

Max Hill (file picture) was appointed the Government's independent reviewer of terror legislation in February 2017 - a turbulent and deadly year for Britain's streets

Britain's terror watchdog Max Hill is a leading QC who has prosecuted many terrorists.

He secured the conviction of the failed 21/7 bombers - terrorists who plotted to blow up a London tube train in July 2005.

He was appointed the Government's independent reviewer of terror legislation in February 2017 - a turbulent and deadly year for Britain's streets.

The UK saw four deadly terror attacks strike across London and Manchester that year - killing dozens and injuring many more.

He announced in July that he will be leaving his post to become the new head of the Crown Prosecution Service after Alison Saunders stepped down after a series of scandals.

Mrs Saunders had faced widespread criticism for overseeing a series of botched investigations into historic sex crimes branded 'witch hunts' by her critics.

He drove a hire car across Westminster Bridge, killing four pedestrians on the pavement and injuring dozens more.

He then leapt out of his crashed car and ran into Parliament where he stabbed to death police officer Keith Palmer. 

Just two months later, suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester killing 22 people - including many children.    

The youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, was just eight years old.

On June 3 London was again plunged into terror when three killers ploughed their cars int pedestrians in London Bridge before going on a bloody knife rampage in Borough Market. 

Rachid Redouane, Khuram Butt and Youssef Zaghba - who were all wearing fake explosive vests - killed eight people before they were shot dead by armed police.

A fortnight later far-right fanatic Darren Osborne drove  his van into a Mosque in Finsbury Park, killing father-of-six Makram Ali and injuring several others. 

The report also revealed a woman who was arrested in the wake of the Manchester attack has received compensation after it was established she was not involved and police accepted her arrest was 'in effect collateral damage'.

Mr Hill said that Britain may need to change its definition of terrorism in the wake of the Novichok poison outrage.

Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left fighting for their lives after being slipped the deadly nerve agent by two Russian spies in Salisbury in March this year.

And British mother-of-three dawn Sturgess, 44 , died after finding the perfume bottle containing the Novichok - the most deadly poison ever invented - in Amesbury.

Mr Hill said: 'It is arguable that the situation changed with events in Salisbury in March 2018 and Amesbury at the end of June. 

Britain was hit by five major terror attacks last year - causing carnage which killed dozens and injuring many more (pictured, mourners light candles for those killed at the Ariana Grande terror attack last May)
Britain was hit by five major terror attacks last year - causing carnage which killed dozens and injuring many more (pictured, mourners light candles for those killed at the Ariana Grande terror attack last May)

Britain was hit by five major terror attacks last year - causing carnage which killed dozens and injuring many more (pictured, mourners light candles for those killed at the Ariana Grande terror attack last May)

'The Novichok poisonings, and the question of the perpetrators and their origin or sponsorship, have inflamed the issue of what terrorism means, and whether our statutory definition provided by Parliament in 2000 works equally for state terrorism and non-state terrorism.'

May's crackdown on streaming terror material online could backfire, watchdog warns 

Theresa May's mission to crack down on terror content shared online risks backfiring by driving the problem underground, the terror watchdog today warned.  

Earlier this year the Government unveiled the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

It would update the offence of obtaining information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover terrorist material that is just viewed or streamed over the internet, rather than downloaded to form a permanent record. 

Max Hill  QC, Britain's independent reviewer of terror legislation, said in  his annual report: 'Where these awful crimes are facilitated by the use of social media, we want to close down the criminals' ability to communicate.

'And yet, we must recognise that policing the internet, and controlling social media comes at a very high price if it interferes with the freedom of communication which every citizen enjoys, and which is also enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

'This is uncertain territory. Driving material, however offensive, from open availability into underground spaces online would be counter-productive if would-be terrorists could still access it.

'And once this material goes underground, it is harder for law enforcement to detect and much harder for good people to argue against it, to show how wrong the radical propaganda really is.'

Mr Hill, said he has 'heard the message' about technological advances which 'drive the imperative to intervene as a matter of law enforcement, without which terrorism may thrive unimpeded'.

He added: 'However, some of the Bill clauses may have unintended consequences.' 

Mr Hill also warned that Theresa May's mission to crack down on terror content shared online risks backfiring by driving the problem underground.     

Earlier this year the Government unveiled the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

It would update the offence of obtaining information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover terrorist material that is just viewed or streamed over the internet, rather than downloaded to form a permanent record. 

He said: 'Where these awful crimes are facilitated by the use of social media, we want to close down the criminals' ability to communicate.

'And yet, we must recognise that policing the internet, and controlling social media comes at a very high price if it interferes with the freedom of communication which every citizen enjoys, and which is also enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

'This is uncertain territory. Driving material, however offensive, from open availability into underground spaces online would be counter-productive if would-be terrorists could still access it.

'And once this material goes underground, it is harder for law enforcement to detect and much harder for good people to argue against it, to show how wrong the radical propaganda really is.'

Mr Hill, said he has 'heard the message' about technological advances which 'drive the imperative to intervene as a matter of law enforcement, without which terrorism may thrive unimpeded'.

He added: 'However, some of the Bill clauses may have unintended consequences.'

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'It's vital the work the police, security services and Government do to keep the public safe from terrorism is underpinned by effective and proportionate legislation.

'Earlier this year we published our updated counter-terrorism strategy and introduced the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill which will increase sentencing and other terrorism powers, update terrorism offences and ensure we are able to robustly respond to the new ways in which terrorists operate.

'Max Hill's independent oversight has been an important part of this process and I thank him for his efforts during his time as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. We will consider his recommendations carefully.'     

How many attacks were carried out by Islamist extremists, Northern Ireland terrorists and far-right fanatics?

Islamist terrorists 

Islamist terrorists carried out three deadly attacks in 2017 alone - in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge.

In total, 35 people were killed and over 100 were injured in the carnage.

The Manchester terror attack - the deadliest of the three strikes - saw suicide bomber Salman Abedi blow himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert killing 22 people.

The youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, was just eight years old.

Extreme right-wing fanatics:

In contrast, between 2013 and 2018 right-wing fanatics carried out four terror attacks in the UK. 

Before this, extreme right-wing activists promoted white supremacist views but posed a low risk to national security.

There has also been a surge in xenophobic crimes. The number of race hate crimes increased by 27 per cent (up 13,266 to 62,685 offences) between 2015/16 and 2016/17. 

Northern Ireland: 

In 2017, there were 58 shootings and 29 bombings in Northern Ireland, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Some 73 people were injured as a result of paramilitary-style assaults - mainly inflicted by Loyalist gangs, and 28 casualties were caused by paramilitary-style shootings, which were nearly all Republican.

And there were two security related deaths, according to the official figures quotes in Max Hill's report. 

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