Pensioner arrested in race hate mail probe

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A pensioner has been arrested by police investigating race-hate letters.

The 70-year-old woman, and a 36-year-old man, were arrested early yesterday morning at a house in the Fareham area, in connection with 57 handwritten racist rants sent to schools, hospitals and individuals across the UK.

The pair were detained by detectives for questioning, in what Hampshire Police say is a significant step in their hunt for the abusive letters' authors.

Both have been released on police bail until January, but the officer in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Donna Goff, said they could be brought in sooner depending on the speed of the investigation's progress.

She also confirmed the arrests were made thanks to an appeal issued through The News and the TV programme Crimewatch.

DI Goff said: 'Following the appeal in The News and on Crimewatch, we received more than 100 calls offering a large amount of information.

'We spent the last two weeks carefully examining this information and as a result we were able to make these arrests.

'We would like to thank those who responded for their help, as the arrests mark significant progress in the inquiry.'

Hampshire Police could not release the exact address where the arrests were made as the pair have been allowed to return home. The force was also unable to confirm whether members of the public recognised the handwriting in the letters.

But the force had already revealed that nearly all of the 57 letters – many of which included offensive cartoon-like illustrations and sexual abuse, as well as racist insults – were post-marked Portsmouth and Isle of Wight.

They were sent between January 2007 and July 2009, to schools, GP surgeries, hospitals, mosques, universities, private addresses all over the country and even prime minister Gordon Brown's Fife constituency office.

One of the recipients was Jan Fleming, headteacher of Somers Park Primary School, in Somers Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth, where 26 per cent of pupils speak English as a second language.

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