Former BNP candidate 'said he would shoot Tony Blair'

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A former British National Party election candidate who stockpiled explosive chemicals for use in an anticipated civil war in Britain boasted that he would shoot Tony Blair, a court was told.

Police raided the home of Robert Cottage, who held "strong views on immigration", and found 21 types of chemicals which could create explosives when mixed together, along with a 300-page computer document called the "Anarchy Cookbook", which detailed how to make different types of bombs. Four air pistols and a number of crossbows with ammunition and ball bearings, which the prosecution claim could be used as shrapnel for explosive devices, were also seized.

Mr Cottage's wife had told police how he wanted to shoot Mr Blair and the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves and that his views had become more extreme since he joined the BNP.

His barrister, Alistair Webster QC, told a jury at Manchester Crown Court yesterday that Mr Cottage believed the "political and financial condition of the country" would lead to civil war within years.

Mr Cottage, 49, of Colne, Lancashire, admitted possession of explosives on the first day of a trial in which he is charged with conspiracy to cause an explosion. He pleads not guilty to that charge.

A second man, David Jackson, 62, of Nelson, Lancashire, denies one count of possession of explosives and one of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

The court heard that Mr Cottage had been married to his wife, Kerena, 29, for two years but she had become unhappy with his political beliefs. After three large boxes arrived at their home, she tipped police off to his arsenal of weapons and his boasts about how he would shoot Mr Blair.

"Rob believes there will be a civil war and the emergence of a new world order," Mrs Cottage told detectives. "I have seen a change in Rob since he became involved with the BNP four years ago. [He] was becoming very radical in his views and opinions. The BNP made mine and Rob's marriage suffer. It drove a wedge between us and we had a trial separation."

Mrs Cottage's statement about her husband, who appeared to lead a normal existence as a driver transporting physically disabled children, led police to raid the family home on 28 September last year. They raided Mr Jackson's home on 1 October and found a bow and arrow and two nuclear protection suits.

Opening the prosecution case against the two men, Louise Blackwell QC said: "The prosecution say these two men together agreed to order these chemicals... and they intended to make a bomb with them."

Mr Cottage was described as a "very religious" man who would "regularly quote from the Bible and read it every other day". Mrs Cottage said in interviews: "Robert believes there will be a civil war. This is why he keep a crossbow. He blames the Government for letting illegal immigrants into the country."

Mr Jackson, who works as a dentist, met Mr Cottage at BNP meetings. He wrote to Mr Cottage, the court heard, ordering chemicals to be obtained over the internet, and enclosing a cheque for £400 in September 2006.

Mrs Cottage's evidence was read to the court because she was unfit to attend due to mental health problems. The court heard that Mr Cottage denied any unlawful purpose for the chemicals and said that he wanted to make fireworks. Mr Jackson told police he wanted to use the chemicals to teach Mr Cottage's son Alexander about chemistry. The case continues today.