Patriotic Alternative organiser Samuel Melia says alleged race-hate stickers were to ‘start conversation’

Friday 19 January 2024

A far-right activist has denied that an online archive of downloadable stickers he created was designed to stir up racial hatred, telling a jury the aim was “to start a conversation”.

Samuel Melia has confirmed he was the head of the Hundred Handers, an anonymous group of activists responsible for a spate of anti-immigration “stickering” incidents between 2019 and 2021, a court has heard.

Melia, 34, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court accused of distributing downloadable versions of stickers which were “intended to stir up racial hatred”, and encouraging racially aggravated criminal damage.

Jurors have heard that members of the Hundred Handers, known as “hands”, would gain access to a library of stickers they could download, print out and stick up around the UK and abroad.

Prosecutors claim the stickers, which included slogans such as “Labour loves Muslim rape gangs”, “We will be a minority in our homeland by 2066”, “Mass immigration is white genocide” and “Second-generation? Third? Fourth? You have to go back”, were intended to stir up racial hatred by telling non-white people “that they were being targeted”.

Melia told jurors at Leeds Crown Court he described himself as “pro-British or a white advocate".

Giving evidence on Friday, Melia said he had not intended to incite racial hatred with the stickers, adding: “The idea was always conversations about topics. They are topics like the grooming gangs or rape gangs that have been prevalent across this country.”

He said he had deleted one sticker from the library that “got close to incitement”, and that one of the Hundred Handers’ rules was not to put stickers on private property because it “would be considered intimidatory”.

“The idea of the messages is to start a conversation, not to make someone feel intimidated,” Melia told jurors.

He said the stickers were intended to be put on street furniture such as lamp posts, benches, bus stops and “places people are waiting”.

“You go round Leeds and there’s stickers on everything. There must be a reason people are putting them out there,” Melia told jurors.

Asked by his barrister, Richard Canning, whether he intended for the stickers to be seen, the defendant said: “Oh god yes, it’s not just for my own pleasure. What use would a sticker be sat in your bedroom drawers? I intended for them to be public.”

Asked if he realised “stickering” would be criminal damage, Melia said: “No. It’s a sticker, a sponge and a bit of water and it comes right off.

“I’ve never heard of anyone being convicted for stickering, no-one seems to be hiding the groups they’re involved with.

“It seems like an accepted form of engaging in the democratic process. It never even crossed my mind it would be criminal damage.”

He said that by the time of his arrest in April 2021 he had “moved on” from the Hundred Handers and was spending most of his time as the Yorkshire organiser for far-right group Patriotic Alternative.

Melia told jurors he described himself as “pro-British or a white advocate”, and was intending to stand as a candidate for a local council for a second time.

He denied hating people of different races, saying: “Everyone deserves their own homeland and I wish them well in that homeland.”

Melia denies both charges and the trial continues.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement