National Action co-founder was a Ukip activist while forming neo-Nazi terrorist group, court hears

Alex Davies says he leafleted for political party during the period he started forming National Action

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Wednesday 04 May 2022 15:00 BST
Mr Davies said he had started National Action because he felt ‘politically homeless’ after the breakdown of the BNP
Mr Davies said he had started National Action because he felt ‘politically homeless’ after the breakdown of the BNP (PA)

The co-founder of National Action was an active member of Ukip while he was forming the neo-Nazi terrorist group, a court has heard.

Alex Davies, 27, is accused of remaining a member of the extremist organisation after it was banned by the British government in December 2016.

Giving evidence to his trial at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday, he said he had previously been a member of other political groups.

They included the Hunt Saboteurs animal rights organisation, the British Movement, and a group called Western Spring.

Mr Davies said he had “started playing an active part in nationalist politics” at the age of 16, but originally was only involved in “independent activism” online and printing off leaflets.

He told the court he had joined the youth branch of the British National Party (BNP) in around 2010 and had travelled from his home in Wales to meetings in London.

“Then in around 2012 to 2013 I became involved in Ukip at a local level,” Mr Davies said. “I was in the constituency branch. That was just leafleting and that sort of thing.”

He was studying for his A-levels at a college in Swansea during the period, and had come into contact with his fellow National Action organiser Ben Raymond.

Mr Davies told the jury that the “embryo of the idea began” in late 2012 or early 2013, and National Action’s website went live in August 2013.

He described himself as the sole founder of the group, but said Mr Raymond had played a “pivotal role in the development of the organisation” and created key propaganda and strategy documents.

Mr Davies said he had started National Action because he felt “politically homeless” as a national socialist following the breakdown of the BNP, and that he had wanted to “build something for other young people”.

The defendant denied trying to foment a race war, saying that it would be “against the interests of the white people I’m trying to support”.

Mr Davies said his early aim was to attract members and build National Action’s media profile, and that its goal was to create a “nationalist Britain, which would be a white Britain”.

A photo shared online of Alex Davies and Mark Jones performing a Nazi salute inside Buchenwald concentration camp in April 2016
A photo shared online of Alex Davies and Mark Jones performing a Nazi salute inside Buchenwald concentration camp in April 2016

The court heard he had started a politics degree at Warwick University in autumn 2013 but had dropped out the following year after a newspaper article exposed his involvement in National Action.

The defendant said he had “jumped before he was pushed” after students protested and called for the university to expel him.

He told jurors that he had returned home to Wales and continued his attempts to expand National Action while working as a window and door salesperson.

In April 2016, Mr Davies travelled to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany with fellow member Mark Jones. A photograph shared online by National Action showed them performing Nazi salutes in an execution room while holding the group’s flag.

Mr Davies called the stunt a “stupid thing to do”, adding: “Whatever my views of history in the Second World War might be, it’s indisputable that people died at Buchenwald and in that execution chamber.”

The defendant also denied supporting the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, and said he did not agree with tweets by other National Action members celebrating the terror attack.

He described their training camps as “more like social events”, and said that sparring and crossbow-shooting activities were not “serious training” or preparations for a race war.

Mr Davies said he had stopped being the national leader of National Action in late 2015 after the role was taken by Christopher Lythgoe, but had continued to lead its southwest branch up until the ban.

“I felt as though it was an unprecedented move, but given the provocative nature of National Action I understood why it was proscribed,” he added. “It was an opportunity for us to reassess what we had been doing and come up with ways of doing things that would be more productive.”

Mr Davies denied continuing to be a member of National Action after it was proscribed as a terrorist group, or working to evade the ban. He admitted giving fellow neo-Nazis legal advice but said the intention was that they would “not do anything wrong”.

He said he was not consulted about the wording of an email sent to members by Mr Lythgoe, which said that National Action would be “shedding one skin for another” and continuing underground.

Mr Davies insisted that he believed the group had disbanded when it was banned, and that he “wanted to start afresh”.

The court previously heard that National Action had split into regional factions that operated under new names.

Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC told the court that Mr Davies had founded an offshoot of National Action called NS131, standing for National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action, while travelling around the country to numerous meetings with other National Action members.

Mr Jameson said Mr Davies had acted as a “recruiter and vetting officer after the ban”, and that he had used encrypted platforms and in-person meetings as part of wide-ranging attempts at operational security. “That is what this case is about: subverting the ban,” he added.

A total of 17 people have been convicted of remaining members after National Action was proscribed, including several that Mr Davies met in 2017.

Mr Davies, of Swansea, denies membership of a proscribed group between 17 December 2016 – the day after National Action was banned – and the date of his arrest on 27 September 2017. The trial continues.

Update, 19 May 2022: Following publication of this article, The Independent was contacted by the Hunt Saboteurs Association who denied that Mr Davies had ever been a member.

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