BRITAIN’S head of counter-terror policing has warned that far-right terrorists are being radicalised by mainstream media coverage.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu also accused websites such as Mail Online, which uploaded the “manifesto” of the gunman in the Christchurch mosques terror attack, of hypocrisy.

In an open letter to the media on how to report terrorism, Basu, one of Britain’s top police officers, said it was ironic that while newspapers have repeatedly criticised the likes of Facebook and Google for hosting extremist content, sites including the Sun and the Mirror rushed to upload clips of footage filmed by the New Zealand gunman.

Basu says: “The same media companies that have lambasted social media platforms for not acting fast enough to remove extremist content are simultaneously publishing uncensored Daesh propaganda on their websites, or make the rambling ‘manifestos’ of crazed killers available for download.”

He appeared to be referring particularly to Mail Online, which made available for download a 74-page document by the New Zealand mosque attacker, which included an explanation of his far-right ideology.

Basu goes on: “The reality is that every terrorist we have dealt with has sought inspiration from the propaganda of others, and when they can’t find it on Facebook, YouTube, Telegram or Twitter they only have to turn on the TV, read the paper or go to one of myriad mainstream media websites struggling to compete with those platforms.”

Basu invited national newspaper editors to debate their coverage with “survivors of terrorism and those of us trying to counter it”.

He said he hoped the government would deal with the issue and not just target social networks such as Facebook and YouTube.

His letter goes on: “A piece of extremist propaganda might reach tens of thousands of people naturally through their own channels or networks, but the moment a national newspaper publishes it in full then it has a potential reach of tens of millions. We must recognise this as harmful to our society and security.

“Anyone who seeks to deny the negative effects that promoting terrorist propaganda can have should think carefully about the massive global effort to remove terrorist content from social media platforms and the pressure that governments, law enforcement and, ironically, the mass media has put on those companies to cleanse their sites.”