Ex-soldier denies far-right terrorist plot to burn down bookshop in Nottingham

Birmingham Crown Court.
Credit: PA
Birmingham Crown Court Credit: PA

A former British soldier accused of a far-right terrorist plot to burn down a bookshop has pleaded not guilty.

William Howitt, 26, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday afternoon (14 July) to enter his plea in front of Judge Melbourne Inman KC.

Howitt, of West Bridgford, Nottingham, is charged with preparation of terrorist acts under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

It is alleged that on or before 14 March he “wrote a plan for conducting an arson attack and equipped himself with a glass hammer and tarpaulin with a view to carrying out an arson attack”.

The court heard the alleged target of the attack was a left-wing bookshop in Nottingham, named by the judge as the Five Leaves bookshop.

In a previous hearing at the Old Bailey in London, it was heard the alleged plot was uncovered when the defendant was stopped by counter-terrorism police in the East Midlands on 5 January.

In the hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, Howitt spoke only to enter his not guilty plea, after travelling from HMP Chelmsford to attend.

Judge Inman further remanded Howitt, who has been in custody since 21 March, to appear at a trial which is currently fixed for 30 October.

The trial, in front of Judge Paul Farrer KC, is expected to last for two to three weeks.