National Action trial: Alleged leader 'urged neo-Nazi to kill Amber Rudd in terror attack', court hears

UK

The alleged leader of a neo-Nazi terrorist group urged one of his subordinates to assassinate the former home secretary Amber Rudd, a court has heard.

Christopher Lythgoe “smiled and nodded” as alleged National Action member Jack Renshaw revealed plans to murder his local MP, Rosie Cooper, with a machete.

But the Old Bailey heard Mr Lythgoe considered the Labour politician a “nobody” and thought targeting a government minister would make more of an impact.

Robbie Mullen, who was at the meeting in Warrington on 1 July last year, told the court that Mr Lythgoe “suggested Renshaw do Amber Rudd, the home secretary” but the plotter thought she would be too well-protected.

“He said he’d planned it all out and he wasn’t going to prison no matter what,” Mr Mullen said.

“[Mr Lythgoe] was happy, he was smiling, he was just nodding his head.

“He asked Jack [Renshaw] if he was he sure, and he said he was and had thought it through. Then Chris [Lythgoe] said to him ‘make sure you don’t f*** it up’.”

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 (SWNS)

Mr Lythgoe allegedly suggested Renshaw commit the attack in the name of National Action as a bloody signal after it became the first extreme right-wing group to be banned in the UK. Renshaw said he would make a “white jihad” video outlining his beliefs to be viewed after his death.

Mr Mullen said another defendant, Matthew Hankinson, said Renshaw should target a synagogue – even if there were children inside – because “all Jews are the same, they’re all vermin”.

The former National Action member, who had become an informant for counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate months before, told the jury Renshaw detailed how he was going to murder Ms Cooper with a machete before taking hostages in a pub.

Renshaw, who admitted to the plan, wanted to lure a female police officer who had previously investigated him for alleged child grooming and hate crimes there and kill her too, before forcing police officers to shoot him dead by wearing a fake suicide vest.

Mr Mullen alerted Hope Not Hate to the plot the following morning, who contacted Labour MP Ruth Smeeth to get a message to Ms Cooper.

Mr Lythgoe denied giving permission for the attack, while he, Renshaw and their four co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to remaining members of National Action after it was banned.

The video showed National Action members marching through Darlington and performing Nazi salutes in November 2016, a month before the group was banned (YouTube)

The government outlawed the organisation in December 2016 for its “virulently racist, antisemitic and homophobic ideology”, which included preparations for a race war.

But the Old Bailey heard that National Action merely split into regional factions to evade authorities, including the since-banned Scottish Dawn and NS131.

The six defendants on trial were allegedly part of the northwest division and attended protests where members made antisemitic speeches and performed Nazi salutes, while carrying banners reading “Cleanse Britain of parasites” and “Hitler was right”.

A police officer testified that a man filmed giving a speech calling on white men to “stand up and set our people free” was Mr Hankinson.

“Blood must be shed, the blood of traitors, the blood of our enemies,” he said.

Mr Mullen, who was formerly an organiser for the faction, told the court they wanted to achieve a “white Britain by any means necessary… war, anything”.

Asked what National Action was against, Mr Mullen replied: “Basically everyone… Jews, blacks, Asians, every non-white race.”

He told the jury members trained in boxing, mixed martial arts and knife fighting at gyms in Warrington and rural training camps, before setting up their own headquarters following the ban.

As the proscription approached, Mr Lythgoe allegedly wrote members an encrypted email saying they were merely “shedding one skin for another”.

The court heard the self-declared leader claim the group would operate underground without the name National Action and continued to arrange meetings and recruit new members, including some through the Daily Stormer website.

Mr Mullen said neo-Nazis communicated used encrypted Tutanota emails and the messaging apps Telegram and Wire in efforts to hide their messages from the security services.

Renshaw has admitted preparing an act of terrorism and threatening to kill police officer Victoria Henderson, but denies membership of a proscribed organisation.

Co-defendants Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth, Merseyside, Mr Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, Andrew Clarke, 33, Mr Lythgoe, 32, and Michal Trubini, 35, all of Warrington, also plead not guilty to membership of a proscribed group.

Mr Lythgoe additionally pleads not guilty to encouraging murder.

The trial continues.

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