Jailed for Jew hate - now he's the victim?

January 20, 2011
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Michael Heaton

Michael Heaton

A convicted white supremacist who wrote that he wanted to "destroy the Jews" has complained to prison authorities - that he has become the victim of religious discrimination.

Michael Heaton, 43, from Wigan, was jailed in June for 30 months for posting over 3,000 racist messages on fascist websites. He also founded the militant group Aryan Strike Force whose members boasted about plotting attacks on synagogues and mosques.

But in a letter in January's Inside Time, the monthly national newspaper for prisoners, Mr Heaton claimed he had been denied his religious rights by prison officers, who confiscated his Pagan pendant because it had fascist meaning and neo-Nazi overtones.

He wrote: "Our food (whether we agree to it or not) is a mixture of halal and kosher, Moslems [sic] can wear hats in prison when nobody else can, Christians are allowed their crosses, so imagine my shock when I enquired about wearing my religious pendant, and was refused."

Heaton, who says he is a devout Odinist, a Norse pagan religion which has had far -right adherents, sought advice from a Pagan minister about his Thor's Hammer pendant. He also complained to prison authorities.

Posting as WiganMike, Heaton was convicted of inciting racial hatred. On the ASF website, he said of Jews: "They will always be scum; destroy 'em with whatever it takes."

He also wrote: "I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews. I hate them with a passion."

People claiming to know Heaton suggested on a far-right online forum that prison officers had bowed to the complaint and had returned the
pendant.

The Prison Service said it could not discuss complaints by individual prisoners. A spokesman said: "Permission for religious articles in prison is at the personal discretion of the prison governor following a thorough assessment."

A CST spokesman said: "Norse and Odinist symbolism features extensively in Nazi and Pagan circles. Legislation on religious rights can make questions such as this a complex matter. But you might well question if this kind of symbolism should meet the relevant criteria."

    Last updated: 2:12pm, January 20 2011