A former West Yorkshire Police detention officer who posted racist content and images showing ostensible support of gun-wielding members of a paramilitary group in Northern Ireland was sentenced yesterday (19th April, 2023) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court over .
William Loyd-Hughes, 27, of Crosland Moor, Huddersfield was previously employed at the town’s police station processing and supervising detained suspects in a locality known as ‘The Wild West’.
The court heard that he had used ‘fake’ Twitter accounts to share extreme views with his followers. He posted images of masked persons holding firearms whilst wearing parliamentary clothing and equipment, posing in front of Ulster Defence Association (UDA) flags. The images were captioned with a message showing support for the organisation, proscribed under the Terrorism Act since 1973, two years after they were founded.
The UDA was responsible for the killing hundreds of people during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and often claimed responsibility for sectarian murders using the cover name the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).
Another post using the same Twitter account shared a racist message alongside a video of people dancing and contained a racist slur used to refer to black people. In a reply to the post, Loyd-Hughes then used a hashtag implying support for killing black people.
The offending Twitter posts were made in August and September, 2022.
He was arrested by Counter Terrorism officers in September, 2022 and an investigation into the messages was directed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following a mandatory referral from WYP.
He was handed an 18 month community order with a 40-day rehabilitation requirement. 100 hours of unpaid work must also be completed. A surcharge and prosecutions costs totalling £199 within seven days was also imposed.
Degree-educated Loyd-Hughes, of previous good character, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing on 15th March, 2023 to publishing images in support of proscribed organisation, the Ulster Defence Association, contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000, and improper use of an electronic communications network. At the same hearing he told the judge, Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring, he is on a ‘plethora of medication’ as he suffers from cystic fibrosis.
The court heard that when Lloyd-Hughes was arrested he told police officers he had limited knowledge of the history of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland and did not intend to post something that supported a banned terrorist organisation. He also told officers in December, 2022 that the racist Twitter posts did not reflect his actual views.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar, Head of the force’s Professional Standards Directorate, said:
“The abhorrent attitudes and outlook displayed by this male as detailed in the court proceedings have no place in policing in West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire Police has signed up to the Police Race Action Plan and takes a zero-tolerance approach to any use of racist language by our officers, staff or volunteers.
“We also make it clear that being a member of a proscribed organisation is prohibited if you are a police employee. We made a mandatory referral to the IOPC when the allegations against this former detention officer first came to our attention. While this staff member has resigned, misconduct proceedings will now resume. He will remain on the College of Policing’s Advisory List until proceedings have been concluded which will prevent him gaining future employment within the police service.”
Emily Barry, regional director of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said in similar vein:
“The racist and deeply offensive views shared by Loyd-Hughes on his Twitter account are dangerous, vile and have absolutely no place in policing – or society as a whole.
“His shocking actions could not be further from the standards expected of a police employee, and are a total betrayal of not only public trust, but that of his colleagues too.”
The IOPC said the charges followed an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North East after a mandatory referral from WYP in September, 2023.
Lloyd-Hughes, whose resignation from his post became effective in February, 2023, one year after being deployed at Huddersfield PS, will face now face police misconduct proceedings stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial.
The former civilian officer is currently working in the kitchen of a Huddersfield restaurant.
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Page last updated Thursday 20th April, 2023 at 0930hrs
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