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THE LEADER of banned neonazi group National Action was jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey today after an investigation into a foiled plot to murder a Labour MP.
Christopher Lythgoe, 32, was said to have taken the organisation underground after it was outlawed in December 2016 — making it the first far-right group to be banned since the second world war — following its support for the murder of MP Jo Cox.
It was said that Mr Lythgoe, from Warrington, had encouraged a plan to kill West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper with a machete by telling Jack Renshaw not to “fuck it up” when they met at the Friar Penketh pub in Warrington.
After 20 hours of deliberations, a jury found Mr Lythgoe guilty of membership of National Action, but cleared him of any involvement in the terror plot.
Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, described as having been Mr Lythgoe’s “number two,” was also convicted of being a member of National Action and jailed for six years.
Mr Renshaw, 23, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, had previously admitted preparing an act of terrorism and threatening a police officer. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of National Action membership.
His plan was leaked to anti-fascist campaign group Hope Not Hate by whistleblower Robbie Mullen, who attended the pub meeting in July last year.
A jury acquitted Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth, Merseyside, of being a member of National Action, and failed to reach verdicts on Andrew Clarke, 33, and Michal Trubini, 35, from Warrington, who faced the same charge.
In sentencing, Mr Justice Jay described National Action as having a “truly evil and dystopian vision” of waging a race war in Britain and said that, after being proscribed, the group “shed its skin” to operate “under the radar” and keep alive “an aspiration which was truly insidious and evil.”
The judge said: “Fortunately … the truly evil and dystopian vision I am describing could never have been achieved through the activities of National Action, a very small group operating at the very periphery of far-right-wing extremism.
“The real risk to society inheres instead in the carrying out of isolated acts of terror inspired by the perverted ideology I have been describing.”
Mr Justice Jay told Mr Lythgoe he was “a fully fledged neonazi, complete with concomitant, deep-seated racism and anti-semitism,” and observed that he “did nothing to stop or discourage” the plot to kill Ms Cooper.
The MP, who sat in court to hear the verdicts, said: “I think it’s awful that any public servant — teacher, nurse, doctor, police, MP — should be targeted and threatened with violence simply because of the job they do.
“To that end, I’d like to thank Robbie Mullen, whose information saved my life.
“I'd also like to thank Lancashire and Merseyside police and the counter-terrorism police who have supported me greatly, and who have kept me, my staff and the general public safe.”
Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, head of investigations for counter-terrorism policing for north-west England, said: “Today’s result is a body blow to extreme right-wing organisations such as National Action.
“It sends out a clear message that counter-terrorism officers and partner agencies will rigorously identify and investigate any violently extreme individual or group who seek to bring a reign of terror to our shores.”
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