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Jo Cox death: Suspect linked to far-right political group that campaigned against the EU

The link between Thomas Mair and the Springbok Club goes back ten years

Kim Sengupta
Thursday 16 June 2016 21:15 BST
Thomas Mair, 53, pictured sitting with gardening gloves, has been found guilty of murdering Jo Cox MP
Thomas Mair, 53, pictured sitting with gardening gloves, has been found guilty of murdering Jo Cox MP (SWNS)

The man arrested over the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox is believed to have had long-term links with a hard-right group based in London which had been campaigning for many years for Britain to leave the European Union.

Get the latest updates on Jo Cox's death via our liveblog

Thomas Mair was named as a supporter in an online publication of the Springbok Club, an organisation which has defended the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Witnesses to the fatal attack on Ms Cox say they heard Mair shout “Britain First” as the MP was shot and then stabbed. The organisation Britain First, which was founded by former members of the British National Party, has denied that Mair was associated with it and say they condemn the killing.

The link between Mair and the Springbok Club goes back ten years when its online magazine, the Springbok Cyber Newsletter, was inquiring about the whereabouts of “Thomas Mair, from Batley in Yorkshire [who] was one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of “S.A. Patriot” who has moved from his address in the Fieldhead Estate district of the town.”

Cox murder suspect arrest

The leading article for June 2016 Springbok Cyber Newsletter, which describes itself on its website as being pro-free market capitalism and patriotism and anti-political correctness, was, however, devoted to Britain and the referendum. It started: “On Thursday, 23rd June 2016 all British voters will have the opportunity to vote on the future of their country. They can vote either to remain entrapped in the artificial and retrograde European Union, or to regain their sovereign independence....”

The article ends by declaring: “But we should not only be concentrating at the negative aspects of remaining in the EU. Our campaign should be primarily positive and optimistic for a future outside the EU. The motto of the Patriotic Forum (an umbrella grouping of patriotic organisations which the Springbok Club is part of) is “Out of Europe and into the World”. There is a golden future waiting for Britain out there once the country returns to its traditional vision of looking towards the Open Seas and its ethnic brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth around the globe. The days ahead will inspire us!”

It is not known if Mair had renewed his connection with the Springbok Cyber Newsletter.

In May 2010 Mair was himself in the news. In an interview with the Huddersfield Daily Examiner he talked about getting work at a local park after being referred to a clinic for adults with mental health problems.

He said: “I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world. Many people who suffer from mental illness are socially isolated and disconnected from society, feelings of worthlessness are also common mainly caused by long-term unemployment.All these problems are alleviated by doing voluntary work. Getting out of the house and meeting new people is a good thing, but more important in my view is doing physically demanding and useful labour.”

Neighbours described how he would do gardening chores for local people.

David Pickles said: “He's lived there longer than me and I've lived here since 1975. I still can't believe it. He's the last guy I would have thought of.

”He's just quiet. He kept himself to himself. He lived by himself. He's been on his own for about 20 years.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “We've known him quite a lot of years. I've known him since I was young. He lived with his grandmother in that house, she died a few years ago. He was a bit of a loner. It's a bit of a shock - he did everyone's gardens.

”I can't say a wrong word about him, he was so quiet. It's come as a shock to everybody.“

  • UPDATE: The Springbok Club has asked us to make clear that Thomas Mair has never been a member of the organisation or attended any of the club's meeting. They have no knowledge of him beyond this one reference. The Club states that it no longer has a political dimension and is purely a social group bringing together expatriate South Africans.

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