National Action: British soldiers accused of joining banned neo-Nazi terrorist group appear in court

Two soldiers and civilian to go on trial in Birmingham next year

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
@lizziedearden
Thursday 21 September 2017 13:31
Mikko Vehvilainen, Mark Barrett and Alexander Deakin stand accused of being members of the first far-right group prohibited by the UK, National Action
Mikko Vehvilainen, Mark Barrett and Alexander Deakin stand accused of being members of the first far-right group prohibited by the UK, National Action

Three alleged neo-Nazis, including two British soldiers, have appeared in court accused of joining a terrorist group.

Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, Private Mark Barrett and Alexander Deakin, a civilian, stand accused of being members of National Action.

It became the first far-right group prohibited by the UK last year because of its “virulently racist, antisemitic and homophobic” ideology.

The trio appeared at the Central Criminal Court via video-link for a preliminary hearing on Thursday.

Mr Vehvilainen appeared alone from HMP Belmarsh, while his co-defendants appeared together from Winchester prison.

Mr Vehvilainen, Mr Barrett and Mr Deakin are accused of being part of a chat group where racist messages were exchanged, including plans for a white-only Britain and race war.

Mr Vehvilainen, who was arrested at Sennybridge Camp in Powys, is also charged with possessing a document containing information likely to be useful for terrorism and publishing threatening, abusive or insulting material.

The 32-year-old allegedly posted comments on the supremacist website Christogenea.org, intending to stir up racial hatred, the indictment said, and had a copy of a manifesto written by far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Mr Vehvilainen is also charged with possessing illegal pepper spray.

Mr Barrett, a 24-year-old soldier based at Kendrew Army Barracks in Rutland, faces a single charge of membership of National Action, contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.

Mr Deakin, of Great Barr in Birmingham, faces the same charge and is also accused of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism and distribution of a terrorist publication.

The 22-year-old allegedly had a copy of a document entitled “white resistance manual for fun” and sent “ethnic cleansing operations” to people over Skype.

The defendants spoke only to confirm their names and to confirm they had understood proceedings before Justice Holroyde.

The judge ordered them to appear at a plea hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on 3 January, with a provisional trial date set for 5 March.