Detention officer, 26, admits fan posting for banned Loyalist group

Police detention officer, 26, who published Ulster Defence Association paramilitary group images admits terror offence

  • Detention officer William Lloyd-Hughes, 26, admitted promoting a terror group 
  • The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) has been proscribed since 1973 
  • Lloyd-Hughes, of West Yorkshire Police, is being investigated by the watchdog

A police detention officer has been convicted of a terror offence after he published images showing his apparent support of a Northern Ireland paramilitary group.

William Lloyd-Hughes, 26, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, today pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to publishing an image of two flags promoting the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) terror group.

The charge was that on September 11, 2022, Lloyd-Hughes posted ‘in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that you were a member or supporter of’ the banned Loyalist organisation. 

Lloyd-Hughes, who was based at Huddersfield Police Station as a civilian member of staff, also pleaded guilty to a charge under the Communications Act 2003 of sharing grossly offensive messages on Twitter on August 27, 2022.

Two further charges of sending grossly offensive messages on Twitter were withdrawn by prosecutors following his guilty pleas.

William Lloyd-Hughes, 26, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, today pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to publishing an image of two flags promoting the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) terror group

Lloyd-Hughes, who was based at Huddersfield Police Station as a civilian member of staff, also pleaded guilty to a charge under the Communications Act 2003 of sharing grossly offensive messages on Twitter on August 27, 2022

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring adjourned sentencing until April 19 at the same court to allow for a pre-sentence report.

Lloyd-Hughes was wearing a light blue shirt and a dark tie in court and was accompanied by his father, who watched from the public gallery.

The defendant spoke to confirm his name, age, address, to enter the guilty pleas and to tell the judge he is on a ‘plethora of medication’ because he suffers from cystic fibrosis.

The court was told he was of previous good character.

The judge said: ‘As you have pleaded guilty to the two charges, the other two have been withdrawn, in due course you will get full credit for those guilty pleas.

‘I need a pre-sentencing report because I know almost nothing about you, about your mindset, about your lifestyle and all the things that might be relevant.

‘I’m going to release you on unconditional bail.’

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog said on Monday that the charges followed an investigation it directed, carried out by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, into the messages following a mandatory referral from the West Yorkshire force last September.

He is currently suspended by the force, the IOPC said.

The UDA is a loyalist paramilitary group which has been proscribed since 1973, two years after it was founded in Northern Ireland.

West Yorkshire Police detention officer William Loyd-Hughes is charged with carrying out the offence in support of the Ulster Defence Association – contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000. (Pictured: West Yorkshire Police headquarters)

At its height, it was a large umbrella group of ultra-loyalist sects which bore arms for almost 34 years as a leading player in the Northern Irish Troubles.

Its stated aim was to defend Protestant Ulster against Irish republicanism, specifically the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The group was associated with a number of executions and bomb attacks, most prolifically during the early 1970s. 

Lloyd Hughes is currently suspended from West Yorkshire Police, for whom he works as a detention officer based at Huddersfield Police Station.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directed an investigation, carried out by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, into the messages following a mandatory referral from his force in September 2022.

The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorised four charges against him.

The alleged offences are believed to have taken place in August and September 2022, while he was working in the civilian role within the force.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that a West Yorkshire Police detention officer is currently suspended from duty in connection with an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North East. 

‘William Loyd-Hughes, who worked in Kirklees District, has submitted his resignation, effective from March 16. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directed an investigation into the messages following a mandatory referral from the force in September 2022.’

Source: Read Full Article