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National Action trial: 'Neo-Nazi' admits terror plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a machete

Jack Renshaw, 23, is on trial with five other alleged members of the banned terrorist group National Action

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 12 June 2018 12:47 BST
Defendants in the National Action terror trial at the Old Bailey from left to right Garron Helm, Michal Trubini, Andrew Clarke, Matthew Hankinson, Christopher Lythgoe, and Jack Renshaw
Defendants in the National Action terror trial at the Old Bailey from left to right Garron Helm, Michal Trubini, Andrew Clarke, Matthew Hankinson, Christopher Lythgoe, and Jack Renshaw

An alleged neo-Nazi has admitted plotting to murder a Labour MP with a machete, while posing as a suicide bomber.

Jack Renshaw, 23, was allegedly a member of the banned terrorist group National Action when he planned the attack on Rosie Cooper.

On the first day of his trial at the Old Bailey, he pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and threatening to kill a female police officer.

The jury heard that Renshaw and his fellow defendants regarded the government as “race traitors” and had been preparing for a war against Jews, gay people, ethnic minorities and anyone not following their violent ideology.

Prosecutors said the group continued to be members of National Action after it was banned in December 2016, recruiting new members and undergoing combat training at their headquarters in Warrington.

In July last year, Renshaw revealed his plan at a pub in the Cheshire town unaware that an informant for the anti-extremism group Hope not Hate was present.

Murder plot victim: Labour MP Rosie Cooper

The witness raised the alarm and later gave an account to police where he said Renshaw felt officers were “destroying his life and trying to make it sound like he was a paedophile” after starting investigations into alleged incitement of racial hatred and child grooming.

“Renshaw stated that if he was charged, he was going to kill Rosie Cooper, his local MP,” the Old Bailey heard.

“He explained his plan was then to take some people hostage in a pub and when the police arrived he would demand to speak to DC Victoria Henderson [a police officer who interviewed him].

“When the officer arrived, he would kill her. Renshaw said that after he had killed Ms Henderson he would then commit ‘suicide by cop’ by pretending to have a suicide vest on.”

Prosecutors said the would-be terrorist intended to make a video stating that the attack was carried out in the name of National Action that would be released after his death.

During the conversation, Renshaw said that he had purchased a machete to use in the attack, which was found days later hidden in a cupboard at a home where he was staying in Skelmersdale.

After stating his intentions, he wrote a series of ominous Facebook posts saying he was “past caring” and “it will all be over soon”.

A converted warehouse allegedly used as base by National Action members in Warrington, Cheshire

“I’ll laugh last but it may not be for the longest,” one comment said.

Mr Justice Jay directed the jury to deliver a formal guilty verdict on the two charges Renshaw admitted, while the trial continues over his alleged membership of National Action and charges against five co-defendants.

Christopher Lythgoe, 32, of Warrington, denies giving Renshaw permission to murder the West Lancashire MP on behalf of National Action at the pub meeting.

He allegedly advised Renshaw to destroy all of his electrical equipment before the attack, so the police could not link him to his neo-Nazi allies, then told him: “Don’t f*** it up.”

Prosecutors said Mr Lythgoe suggested Renshaw should murder the home secretary instead of Ms Cooper, calling the MP a “nobody”, but Renshaw argued Amber Rudd would be too well-protected.

Mr Lythgoe stands accused of leading the northwest faction of National Action after the group’s prohibition, when it split into several factions that operated under aliases to evade authorities.

On Tuesday the prosecution presented emails he allegedly sent using the encrypted Tutanota service organising meet-ups, combat training, recruitment and issuing instructions on secure communications.

Four days before the proscription, which National Action leaders knew of in advance, he allegedly told members: “We’re just shedding one skin for another. All genuinely revolutionary movements in the past have needed to exist partly underground. These are exciting times.”

Jurors heard that all six defendants remained members of National Action after it was banned in December 2016 over its celebration of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, marches and violent antisemitic and homophobic propaganda.

Renshaw and Mr Lythgoe, along with Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth in Merseyside, Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside, Andrew Clarke, 33, and Michal Trubini, 35, both of Warrington, also deny membership of the terrorist group.

Duncan Atkinson QC, for the prosecution, said social media accounts and other communications showed that all defendants continued to espouse National Action’s violent, racist and antisemitic ideology.

“It is clear from the actions at that time that it was the intention of the organisation that it wasn’t going to give up – instead it was going to tread more carefully,” he told the court.

“The defendants’ ideology was not changed by the proscription. Part of that ideology was to see the government which has banned it as ‘race traitors’. But this was not just a common mindset or a sympathy for the same extreme racist right-wing views.

Police at the scene in Greymist Avenue in Warrington, Cheshire, following a police counter-terrorism raid where a 31-year-old man was arrested

“The behaviour of the group of which these defendants were members, and in relation to which they were each active, remained the same as it had before proscription.

“This allows the conclusion that they were voluntarily and knowingly working together, with others, to advance the aims of National Action, whatever name they chose to use.”

Renshaw repeatedly claimed “multiculturalism is white genocide” and part of a plot to create a Jewish master race, specifically accusing the Labour party of orchestrating a campaign of perceived racial displacement.

Days after National Action was banned, he tweeted: “I thought that being a terrorist would be interesting, who knew nothing would change.”

National Action and Nazi memorabilia was found at all of the defendants’ homes during police searches, the court heard, and Mr Helm displayed a picture of Adolf Hitler above his mantelpiece.

He is accused of being the main planner of camps where members underwent combat training in Scotland and the Lake District, while Hankinson allegedly organised demonstrations, Mr Trubini was in charge of protest tactics, and Mr Clarke was the lead for ideology.

On a USB stick found at Mr Hankinson’s home, police found a text reading: “We are racial national socialists, the nation is our blood … we must split the people into two groups, the racially loyal nationalists and the traitors. This must be done.”

The trial continues.

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