Government Goes Hard After the Soft Target Amongst the Anti-Semites

Friday 14th August 1936


The leader of Britain's Imperial Fascist League,  Arnold Leese and his printer Walter Whitehead were committed for trial on the charge of seditious libel for a series of articles in The Fascist newspaper advocating the extermination of Jews and accusing them of the ritual murder of Christian children. The charge was a criminal one and carried a possible severe jail term, but Leese was in many senses a very soft target.

The IFL was a small minority group, entirely dedicated to Leese's obsessive racial anti-Semitism, and was of practically no political significance. Leese was a former military veterinary surgeon, who had become fixated on what he saw as the cruelty of Jewish slaughter techniques. The prosecution left wide open the question of how the government was to deal with the far larger British Union of Fascists, who policies were becoming explicitly anti-Semitic and whose provocative demonstrations posed far more of a threat to public order the safety of Jews.

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