British Columbia

Hate crimes trial underway in Quesnel, B.C.

Roy Arthur Topham was charged in 2012, after complaints to the RCMP Hate Crimes Unit.

B.C. man alleged to have promoted hatred against Jewish people through his website

Arthur Topham was convicted of willfully promoting hatred against Jewish people through his website. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

A BC man is on trial in Quesnel for promoting hatred against Jewish people through his website.
Roy Arthur Topham was charged in 2012, after complaints to the RCMP Hate Crimes Unit.

The indictment charges him with two counts of  "communicating statements, other than in private conversation, that wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group, people of the Jewish religion or ethnic origin."

The charges arise from articles Topham wrote or posted on his website,, between 2011 and 2013.
The judge and jury in the case are examining four binders of material from the website.

Security is tight at the Quesnel Courthouse, where extra sheriffs are on hand, a metal detector is being used, and the Crown's expert witness, Len Rudner, has RCMP protection. Rudner is a former long-time staffer with the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Monday in court, Rudner testified that some of the articles written by Topham and posted on his website distorted and demonized Jewish people. Rudner testified Topham's articles accused "World Jewry" of starting World War II, controlling the media and planning for world domination.

Rudner said Topham's writing associated Jews with the devil, including Topham's use of the phrase,"Synagogues of Satan."

"[Topham] blames Jews for the war on Hitler," Rudner testified. "There is no global conspiracy.  There is no secret kabal of Jews wanting to control the world."

Testimony challenged   

Under cross-examination, Topham's lawyer, Barclay Johnson, challenged Rudner's standing as an expert witness.  He argued Rudner was "biased" because he complained to Topham's website service provider as far back as 2007 about inappropriate, anti-Semitic articles. That complaint later formed part of a criminal complaint to RCMP.

"In 2007, you were paid by the Canadian Jewish Congress. Today you are paid by the Crown. As a paid witness, aren't you going to say exactly what is needed to prosecute Mr. Topham and Mr. Topham's website?" Johnson demanded.

At this point, Justice Bruce Butler intervened. "I don't understand," he said.

"That's okay," conceded Johnson. "I don't need to go there."

Johnson then challenged Rudner on his definition of anti-Semitism, arguing the Oxford Dictionary's definition did not use the word "hate."

"Would you like to revise your definition?" Johnson challenged Rudner. "Sticking to your guns? Against the most authoritative dictionary in the world?"

The defense is scheduled to call its first witness, Gilad Atzmon, on Tuesday.