2018 saw a series of trials that ended with 13 supporters of National Action being convicted under terrorism legislation, by far the most significant prosecution of any far right group on serious terrorist or violent charges since Colin Jordan and John Tyndall were prosecuted for the Spearhead paramilitary group in 1963.
Two trials in Birmingham and one in London saw 10 people convicted of membership of National Action. Among those convicted were Christopher Lythgoe, the leader of National Action, and serving soldier Mikko Vehvilainen.
However, it was the trial and conviction of Claudia Patatas, a Portugese national, that attracted most media attention. Stories of her encouraging others in the group to commit violence and pictures of her baby – named Adolf – surrounded by nazi and KKK imagery captivated the media.
Another two trials in Leeds saw 19-year-old Jack Coulson admit to making a pipe bomb and Wayne Bell convicted of using social media to post racist and antisemitic material.
Following the sentencing at the second Birmingham National Action trial, Det Chief Supt Matt Ward, of West Midlands Police, said: “These sentences are the culmination of two years of painstaking work in the West Midlands and across the country to recognise and understand the threat of National Action.
“These individuals were not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organisation.
“Their aim was to spread neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out.
“They had researched how to make explosives, they had gathered weapons and they had a clear structure to radicalise others. Unchecked they would have inspired violence and spread hatred and fear across the West Midlands.”
While the authorities are now confident that these convictions have destroyed National Action, it should not be forgotten that for six months after its proscription, the group operated without the knowledge or any surveillance from the police. Indeed, it was only after information supplied by a HOPE not hate source within the group that the authorities learnt of Christopher Lythgoe, the group’s leader.
While these convictions are to be welcomed, the group’s demise has led to a number of smaller, if anything more extreme, groups being formed.Download a PDF of the report here