• Louize Small

Pensioner Imprisoned for Thoughtcrimes

Cornish musician and radio host Graham Hart has been sentenced to 32 months in prison for eight counts of ‘hate speech’ at Truro Crown Court.

The 69-year-old pleaded guilty to ‘producing a programme likely to stir up racial hatred’ but maintains he was just ‘mouthing off’, rather than intending to cause harm to anyone.

Mr Hart started broadcasting back in 2016. He aired his views, chatted with guests about a variety of subjects, questioned significant events throughout history and shared his research findings with listeners around the world.

Central to the prosecution’s case was a dossier compiled by pressure group ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism', which referenced material from Mr Hart’s radio shows, focusing on a song called ‘The Hoax Train’, which urges people to question the official account of the Holocaust and ‘wake up’.

Police raided Graham’s house shortly after the song’s online release. They gathered a ‘Free Palestine’ t-shirt, a German family heirloom, and some books lent to him by friends, as evidence. Arrest followed swiftly once investigators began listening to Graham’s shows. He was denied medication for chronic, painful health conditions while held in custody and lost 11lbs in 10 days.

Mr Hart’s relatives are shocked at the length of his sentence and his treatment. They say he started the radio show from his music studio because he wanted to let off steam. His daughter believes he has been made an example of for being outspoken with his unorthodox views. The family worry about his health and how he will cope in prison but are reassured that he seems to be doing okay at the moment.

In addition to his prison term, Graham is banned from broadcasting for 10 years.

While Mr Hart’s opinions may seem radical, surely he is entitled to them? How does it harm anybody else for him to have a different view of history? Can people not decide for themselves whether they will take or leave the information?

A statement on Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s website said:

‘Graham Hart, 69, of Penponds, Camborne, was charged earlier this year with five counts of using offending words or behaviour in a programme involving threatening, abusive or insulting visual images or sounds which was included in a programme produced with intent or likely to stir up racial hatred. Three further charges arose from comments that Mr Hart made on another radio show in late December 2020.’

His sentence poses serious questions about censorship and freedom of speech and is reminiscent of the story of 92-year-old German Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck, who received multiple sentences from different courts and is now spending time in prison for holding alternative views about the WW2 persecution of Jewish people.

Holocaust denial is illegal in 17 countries. The U.K., along with Sweden, Denmark and Italy, has rejected such laws but prosecution is still possible by bringing charges for other related offences. Spain declared genocide denial laws unconstitutional in 2007.

And what of the ‘hate speech’ aspect? Does Muslim and refugee-bashing not become a national pastime when whipped-up by the media? What about the scorn poured on politicians, vegans, or those who do not wish to be part of a medical experiment: aren’t those groups subject to ‘hate speech’ at times? Nobody is in prison for using harsh words against them.

What would George Orwell think?

In his much-cited dystopian novel, 1984, Orwell describes ‘thoughtcrime’ as politically controversial or negative thoughts, doubts, and beliefs that oppose Party dogma. The aim of the government in the strangely prophetic novel is to eradicate individuality and freedom of thought, instead promoting Communism (IngSoc) and mindless obedience as the only acceptable way of life.

Of course, inciting people to violence in the name of anything is rarely a good idea but Graham insists that his passion for the truth got the better of him and nobody was hurt or harmed by him sharing his opinion with his very niche audience.

The court case following Graham’s tried a child molester who had groomed and sexually abused two young sisters. The defendant was given a three-year suspended sentence and returned to the community for treatment. Mr Hart’s daughter remarked that, “the scales of justice are all wrong”.

Copyright Louize Small, September 2021.

All Rights Reserved.

This article appears in Issue 15 (November 2021) of The Light paper.