Why isn’t the trial of a man charged with preparing for terror attacks using tennis-ball bombs being reported? He’s not a bearded Muslim
Imagine, for a moment, that Neil Lewington, who is on trial at the Old Bailey for preparing for a “campaign of terrorism” using tennis-ball bombs, was a British Muslim. The story would be splashed across the front page of every newspaper in Britain, and Sky News would be rolling a loop of images of his scowling, bearded, dark face.
The reality, however, is that you’ve probably never heard of Lewington (who denies all eight charges of terrorism) because he is not Muslim, or black, or of Asian origin. He is white. And our gloriously impartial, truth-seeking, “colour-blind” media don’t seem to care. The coverage of the Lewington trial has been negligible – a few short stories buried deep inside a handful of newspapers, but, as I write, no rolling coverage on Sky News, and not a peep on the main BBC news bulletins or on Newsnight.
One veteran home affairs correspondent told me he had asked his editors why the Lewington trial wasn’t being covered. “They didn’t want to hear about it,” he said. “They just weren’t interested. It’s outrageous.”
Lewington is only the latest in a long line of white terror suspects who have “disappeared” from the mainstream media. Have you heard of Robert Cottage? He is the former British National Party candidate jailed in July 2007 for possessing explosive chemicals in his home – described by police at the time of his arrest as the largest amount of chemical explosive of its type ever found in this country. The national coverage of Cottage’s arrest in October 2006 amounted to exactly 56 words in a single “news in brief” item in the Sunday Times.
There is, too, the case of Martyn Gilleard, the Nazi sympathiser jailed in June 2008 after police found nail bombs, bullets, swords, axes and knives in his flat, as well as a note in which he had written, “I am so sick and tired of hearing nationalists talk of killing Muslims, of blowing up mosques, of fighting back. Only to see these acts of resistance fail to appear. The time has come to stop the talk and start to act.” What about Nathan Worrell? This neo-Nazi, described by police as a “dangerous individual”, hoarded bomb-making materials in his home, and was found guilty in December 2008 of possessing material for terrorist purposes and for racially aggravated harassment. His trial attracted two passing references in the popular national press, in the Daily Star and the Sun.
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