One of UK’s youngest terror plotters named after losing anonymity battle

Jack Reed attempted to extend automatic reporting ban on identifying child offenders

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Monday 11 January 2021 18:36
One of the sketches made by the teenager
One of the sketches made by the teenager

One of the UK’s youngest terror plotters has been named for the first time after losing a legal bid to remain anonymous.

Jack Reed, 18, was jailed last year for preparing neo-Nazi acts of terrorism, and given a new sentence last month for child sex offences.

Reed, of Durham, had detailed plans to firebomb synagogues and other buildings in the Durham area as part of what he believed was an upcoming “race war”.

Before being arrested, he wrote a terrorist manifesto and said his upcoming 12 weeks of study leave would be “showtime”.

In January 2020, Reed was jailed for six years and eight months for preparing acts of terrorism, disseminating terrorist publications and possessing material for terrorist purposes.

Last month, he was given a concurrent 18-month detention and training order for five counts of sexually touching a girl under the age of 13.

His lawyers applied for a ban on identifying him a day before his birthday on Christmas Eve, when the automatic anonymity afforded to child offenders was due to expire.

The Recorder of Manchester, Judge Nicholas Dean QC, granted an extension to the restrictions but threw the application out on Monday following a challenge by the Press Association agency.

He also admitted there had been “no power” to extend the ban on naming Reed, and that the media should have been able to identify him from 24 December.

Judge Dean said Reed’s lawyers had accepted that he had no power under statute or common law to continue the reporting restrictions, and would not be appealing to the High Court.

They had argued that naming him would be adverse to the welfare of a “very vulnerable youth with very obvious social difficulties” and his anonymity should continue until at least ongoing psychological assessments were complete.

The cover of the teenager's handwritten terrorist manifesto

They told  Manchester Crown Court the release of his identity would have a “huge negative impact” on him and his family.

Sentencing Reed for terror offences, the previous Recorder of Manchester, Judge David Stockdale QC, found the teenager's subsequently diagnosed autism spectrum disorder played a part in his offending.

He described the teenager as “highly intelligent, widely read, quick-thinking and articulate” but told him that it was “a matter of infinite regret that you pursued at such a young age a twisted and - many would say - a sick ideological path”.

The court heard that Reed had been an “adherent of a right-wing ideology” since the age of 13, and that his views became more extreme as he immersed himself in fascist websites and forums.

By 2017, he was describing himself as a neo-Nazi and operated a since-deleted Twitter account with a handle referring to British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.

Reed’s racist and homophobic tweets drew the attention of police but when he was interviewed in September that year, he claimed they were posted “for a laugh”.

Reed claimed he was not an extremist, but started another Twitter account and continued communicating with contacts, while accessing a “large quantity of extreme right-wing literature” online and in hard copies.

His trial heard how he steeped himself in antisemitic conspiracy theories and ranted about Jewish governors at his school, Jewish MPs and the press.

In August 2018, Reed described himself as a “radical national socialist” and follower of Adolf Hitler, saying he had read Mein Kampf and had a photo of the Nazi leader on his phone.

Prosecutors said the boy obtained and shared terror manuals on making explosives and firearms on the Ironmarch and Fascist Forge online forums, but also drew on jihadi propaganda.

He had searched for Isis execution videos and used al-Qaeda literature, and a jihadi guide on making deadly poisons, including ricin.

By November 2018, Reed had progressed to extreme occult neo-Nazism and voiced support for satanism.

The teenager declared his support for the “siege” ideology, which was started by an American neo-Nazi and advocates the use of terror attacks to trigger a race war and chaos.

Writing on the Fascist Forge forum, Reed claimed a race war was “inevitable”, and called himself an “accelerationist”.

After reading Norway shooter Anders Breivik’s manifesto, he had written his own version entitled: “Storm 88: A manual for practical sensible guerrilla warfare against the kike [offensive term for Jewish] system in Durham city area, sieg hiel.”

It called for lone wolf terror attacks to fight the “genocide” of white people and listed proposed attack targets in Durham, including schools, public transport and council buildings.

Prosecutors said they had not identified a “particular act or acts” of terrorism that Reed was going to commit, but that he had been preparing for some kind of atrocity since October 2017.

When he was arrested in March 2019, Reed was carrying a drawing of a fellow school pupil being beheaded, because he believed he was gay and deserved “judgement”.

Police also found a piece of paper in Reed’s pocket containing a message in code that said: “Killing is probably easier than your paranoid mind thinks. You’re just not used to it.”

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