Leeds far-right activist guilty of inciting racial hatred

  • By Steve Jones & PA Media
  • BBC News

Image caption,

Samuel Melia will return to Leeds Crown Court for sentencing

A far-right activist has been found guilty of inciting racial hatred by running an online library of downloadable anti-immigration stickers.

Samuel Melia was the head of the so-called Hundred Handers group which was responsible for “stickering” incidents between 2019 and 2021.

At Leeds Crown Court, Melia was also found guilty of encouraging racially aggravated criminal damage.

Melia, 34, from Pudsey, will be sentenced on 1 March.

Earlier, jurors heard how members of the Hundred Handers, known as “hands”, would gain access to a library of stickers that they could download, print and stick up in their local area.

Prosecutors said the stickers were intended to stir up racial hatred. But Melia, who is also the Yorkshire organiser for far-right group Patriotic Alternative, claimed they were intended to “start a conversation”.

He said the practice of “stickering” was widespread and it “never occurred” to him that it would be criminal damage.

Prosecutor Tom Storey KC said media reports of “stickering” linked to the group “extended from Cornwall to Northern Ireland”.

‘3,500 subscribers’

He argued the stickers were used to spread the message that there were people in the area with overtly racist views and attract like-minded people.

They would also “warn or intimidate members of non-Christian religions, or those from non-white races, that they were being targeted”, he said.

After police arrested Melia in April 2021, they searched his house and found a label printer and stickers with anti-immigration messages.

Officers also discovered “key signs of the defendant’s ideology”, including a book by Oswald Mosley, who founded the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, as well as posters of Mosley and Adolf Hitler.

Mr Storey said the Hundred Handers Telegram channel had more than 3,500 subscribers.

A number of photographs had been posted to the channel showing the anti-immigration stickers in public locations, including on the door of an MP’s constituency office.

Mr Storey said: “Also found within the defendant’s Telegram posts and chat were messages which make clear that he expected that Hundred Handers stickers would be displayed in public places, and also that he had placed stickers in such places himself.

“He noted that there was to be a BLM (Black Lives Matter) protest in his town, and that he was going to ‘plaster the surrounding area the night before’.”

Melia, who described himself as “pro-British or a white advocate”, was bailed by Judge Tom Bayliss KC until his sentencing at the same court.

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