Richard Hesketh: CST research puts antisemitic far right video streamer in prison
3 December 2021
CST’s investigative research has led to one of Britain’s most prolific antisemitic video streamers being convicted of inciting anti-Jewish hate online. Richard Hesketh, from Greater Manchester, has been sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty to stirring up racial hatred by posting a series of viciously antisemitic homemade videos on the fringe social media site BitChute.
Hesketh, who also used the name Rick Heskey for his online postings, posted thousands of videos online that attracted millions of views. It is no surprise that he used BitChute, a site CST has repeatedly highlighted as a haven for far-right extremists, antisemites and terrorist sympathisers. His use of the site typifies a new generation of far-right activists who use social media to spread the most vile hatred. In fact, Heskey operated across several platforms, including BitChute, and boasted of having posted around 4,000 videos that attracted over 5.5 million views.
Hesketh’s aims were explicitly clear: one of his social media profiles had the title 'Dedicated to Exposing the Jew' and elsewhere he described his goal as “exposing the filthy Jews”. He saw himself as a “Full time Jew Namer” and took all the opportunities presented to him by the fairly unmoderated platforms of Bitchute and Goyim TV to goad, taunt and insult Jews and the Jewish community.
In fact, Hesketh had previously appeared in a video with one of the US founders of Goyim TV, Jon Minadeo II, who also leads a network of US-based antisemitic agitators called the Goyim Defense League (GDL). Minadeo also posted material reacting to the police raid of Hesketh’s home and stated that Hesketh was the first person with whom he had ever streamed.
CST first became aware of Hesketh’s online activities in May 2020. His singular focus, brazen content and aggressive antisemitism made him an important figure in the far-right online echo chamber. Hesketh’s videos were full of grotesque antisemitic images and violent language. In a video about an antisemitic assault on a Jewish man in Brazil, Hesketh said: “Hitler should have killed more Jews. Completely agree, I’d say he should have killed about 16 million, that should have finished them off.”
In October 2020, Hesketh shared a video titled 'Jews in the News- Halle Synagogue attacker 1 year on'. The video came shortly after a report from Hamburg, Germany that an individual with a shovel had attacked several community members on their way to synagogue. Heskey stated during this video: “if you’re gonna go into a synagogue and scare the s**t out of these rat-faced Jews it’s like, why would you take a shovel? It’s not exactly the best weapon for cleaving people. It’s good for bonging them on the head with, filthy Jew sit down.”
In another video, Hesketh visited Clifford’s Tower in York, the scene of an infamous massacre of Jews in 1190. The video was titled 'The Filthy Jews of York Castle' and included an antisemitic meme arguing that Jews deserved to be expelled from dozens of countries throughout history.
Another video celebrated Brenton Tarrant, the far-right terrorist who murdered 51 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
In June 2020, amid the backdrop of warnings from law enforcement that the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to the growth of extremist ideologies, CST passed a report of Hesketh’s material to the police. The report included 16 pages of screenshots and explanations of Hesketh’s activities, his antisemitism and the danger he posed to the Jewish community. At this point, his BitChute account had 5,544 subscribers, and he had posted 3,327 videos, which between them had attracted an astonishing 2,212,310 views.
CST was concerned about Hesketh’s ability to create further videos, as well as the damage being done by the videos already on his BitChute account. In July 2020, one month after CST reported him to the police, Hesketh’s BitChute following had increased by over a thousand to 6,691 subscribers, indicating a growing audience for his anti-Jewish hate. In September 2020, his BitChute account was finally suspended for “severe policy violations”, at which point CST tracked his digital presence as he moved to multiple smaller platforms in an attempt to rebuild his stature and following.
In November 2020, Greater Manchester Police raided a house in the Manchester area that belonged to Hesketh. Devices and documents from the house were seized and a detailed investigation was conducted. In August 2021, Richard Hesketh was charged with 7 counts of distributing a recording of visual images or sounds stirring up racial hatred, contrary to section 21(1) Public Order Act 1986. On 7 September 2021, Hesketh pleaded guilty to all charges and today (3 December 2021) he was sentenced to four years in jail at Manchester Crown Court.
Following the sentencing, Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: "Hesketh shared as well as created hundreds of shockingly offensive videos and content on social media, which undoubtedly incited hatred towards the Jewish community. In police interview Hesketh showed no remorse and even continued to upload offensive material to his social media channels after he was released under investigation. Hesketh enjoyed viewing videos of serious attacks on Jewish people and even made comments referring to his disappointment that the attacker in one video did not kill the victim, showing just how depraved his beliefs are. Peddling this mind set across the internet is dangerous and at the same time incredibly upsetting to our communities. This case highlights that right wing terrorism will not be tolerated in any shape or form and we will do all we can to bring these offenders to justice. I am pleased that Hesketh will no longer be able to continue his campaign of abuse and I really do hope that his time in prison is spent reflecting upon his appalling behaviour".
Mark Gardner, CST’s Chief Executive, said: “Richard Hesketh was one of Britain’s most prolific far right antisemitic video streamers and his anti-Jewish hatred was viewed millions of times by his online audience. We are pleased to have helped bring this antisemite to justice and we are grateful to Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their efforts in putting him in prison.”
Despite pleading guilty, Hesketh continued to post antisemitic and racist material online, showing a complete lack of remorse.
CST has a long history of countering far-right activity in the UK, much of which goes unreported at the time. It was only in the last two months that details have been released about an undercover CST operation, jointly with Searchlight magazine, that led to neo-Nazi David Copeland being identified as the 1999 London nail bomber. Although the technology and methods of our research have changed over time, our mission has not. Hesketh had not attempted to emulate Copeland’s murderous terrorism, but he operated in online environments where the glorification and encouragement of anti-Jewish terrorism is commonplace. And his insistent, explicit anti-Jewish hate could easily have contributed to this atmosphere and incited others to undertake an antisemitic attack against the Jewish community.
Hesketh’s anti-Jewish hate represents the ideological, political and physical threat posed by right-wing extremists and online influencers during the digital age. CST will always remain vigilant to the activities of antisemites and those who would seek to harm our community. Hesketh will, sadly, not be the last such case, which is why CST’s work, in partnership with the police, must continue to combat this threat.