BBC Cleared for Publishing Neo-Nazi Propaganda Image That Encouraged 'Race Traitor' Prince Harry to be Shot

The BBC was right in its decision to publish neo-Nazi propaganda images depicting Prince Harry being shot, a report has stated.

Ofcom, the body that regulates British broadcasters, found the BBC correctly observed editorial guidelines by publishing the image on December 5, 2018, article entitled "British neo-Nazis suggest Prince Harry should be shot."

The article detailed an investigation into the online activity of far-right group Sonnenkrieg Division, including a member who was just 17 years old at the time.

It included an image created by members of the neo-Nazi group that featured the Duke of Sussex with a gun pointing at his head, along with splattered blood, a swastika and the words "see ya later race traitor"—a racist reference to his wife Meghan Markle.

The BBC accompanied the image with the text: "One image suggests that Prince Harry should be shot for marrying someone of mixed race."

The BBC updated the article the following day to reduce the size of the image and issue a warning about its content to readers. By December 7, the image was entirely removed from the article by the BBC because it said the public interest in the story had wavered, therefore its inclusion was no longer justified.

A complaint was made that the original inclusion of the image, created by the neo-Nazi group to incite criminal action, was not warranted and that its publication fell below the "generally accepted standards as to harmful and offensive material."

Prince Harry
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex look on during the pre-game ceremonies before the MLB London Series game between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at London Stadium on June 29, 2019 in London, England. A watchdiog has ruled that BBC was justified in publishing an image of neo-Nazi propaganda depicting Prince Harry being shot. Dan Istitene

Ofcom is not required to resolve complaints about the BBC's online material and has no enforcement powers. Instead, the watchdog must consider complaints and give an opinion or recommendations as appropriate on whether the BBC observed its own editorial guidelines.

In their report, Ofcom said there was potential for the image to cause harm or offense and it was made clear by the BBC that it was created by the group for the "purpose of spreading its racist ideology."

However, the watchdog said there was significant public interest in exposing the group's "shocking actions to readers and raising public awareness of its extremist views," as well as highlighting the need for legal action to be taken against them.

The report added that the inclusion of the image was not likely to incite criminal activity as the context of the article "exposed, raised awareness of, and clearly condemned the group's actions."

In a statement, Ofcom added: "When broadcasting or publishing examples of racist propaganda in content with a clear public interest, there are nevertheless limits on the type of material which can be included, taking into account generally accepted standards in particular. The BBC demonstrated in this case that it made a finely balanced decision on the necessary editorial justification to include the image and removed it from the article two days after publication when it considered that the public interest in the story had reduced."

In June, two men arrested in the wake of the BBC investigation were jailed for terrorism offenses.

Michal Szewczuk, 19, from Leeds, was jailed for four years and three months after pleading guilty to two counts of encouraging terrorism and five counts of possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, from London, was handed an 18-month prison sentence after he admitted two counts of encouraging terrorism.

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, said in a statement: "The considerable amount of material they have posted on social media channels not only reflects their extremist beliefs but was intended to encourage others to carry out despicable acts.

"Both men have developed and evolved their interest in the extreme right-wing ideology over time through research and connecting with like-minded individuals."

Correction: We have updated the headline of this article to better reflect the story.