The sinister neo-Nazi cult that had Met policeman in its ranks
The sinister neo-Nazi cult that had Met policeman in its ranks: From bomb-making and beheading plots to ‘Miss Hitler’ beauty pageants and child abuse… how London officer is now 16th member of banned National Action terror group to be convicted
- Ben Hannam, 22, became first British policeman to be convicted of terrorism
- He is 16th person to be found guilty of being member of banned National Action
- Others linked to far-Right group have launched machete attacks and built bombs
The sinister neo-Nazi cult that had a Metropolitan Police officer in its ranks also boasted members who plotted machete attacks, groomed underage boys and attended ‘Miss Hitler’ beauty pageants.
Ben Hannam, 22, yesterday became the first British policeman to be convicted of being a member of the banned white supremacist group National Action (NA).
The terror organisation, launched by Ben Raymond and Alex Davies in 2013, recruited young and vulnerable followers with online propaganda, demonstrations and publicity stunts.
It expressed virulent hatred for non-whites and incited violence against its perceived enemies, with those associated with it plotting to kill MPs and launching machete attacks while yelling ‘White supremacy!’
Ben Hannam, 22, yesterday became the first British policeman to be convicted of terrorism after it was found he was once a member of banned white supremacist group National Action
When officers searched Hannam’s bedroom last year, they found neo-Nazi posters, notes detailing his membership of NA, as well as NA badges and business cards. Nazi propaganda can be seen on the wall by his bed alongside Star Wars posters, which the court heard he likened to the artwork and imagery of fascism
National Action, labelled ‘racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic’ by the then-home secretary Amber Rudd, was banned in December 2016 after calling on followers to emulate the killer of the MP Jo Cox.
Hannam, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, is the 16th person to be convicted of being a member of the neo-Nazi organisation.
The 22-year-old, who was released on bail ahead of sentencing on April 23, attended training camps, went on graffiti sprees and recruited others to join NA after being absorbed into its ranks in 2016.
He even became a poster boy for the NA and featured in a recruitment video just weeks before he applied to the Metropolitan Police in 2017.
A diary belonging to Hannam in which he detailed ‘possible group activities’ and his ‘life in recent years’
Hannam is seen doing a Nazi salute and holding a National Action flag during a meeting of the neo-Nazi group
Yet shockingly he managed to sail through the vetting process to become a probationary police officer two years after joining the proscribed terror group.
His activity was discovered when an anonymous hacker using the name ‘antifa-data’ [anti-fascist data] hacked into a neo-Nazi forum called Iron March and published details of its 1,185 users online.
Other ex-members of National Action have previously been convicted of shocking crimes, including assassination plots, bomb-making, and racially motivated attacks.
White supremacist who attacked Sikh dentist with a machete
Zack Davies, then 26, launched a lone violent machete attack at an Asian dentist who had gone to Tesco to buy his lunch in January 2015, shouting: ‘This is for Lee Rigby.’
The extremist, who was radicalised online, had posted an image of himself in a balaclava with a large knife and the flag of National Action hours before he attempted to decapitate Dr Sarandev Bhambra in Mold, Flitshire.
Davies, who was found guilty of attempted murder, repeatedly hacked at the terrified 24-year-old as he tried desperately to escape up an aisle of the supermarket, flinging products from the shelves to slow down his grinning attacker.
He is understood to have been a member of National Action before it was proscribed.
Zack Davies (above) launched a violent machete attack at an Asian dentist who had gone to Tesco to buy his lunch in January 2015, shouting: ‘This is for Lee Rigby’
Pictured: A Far Right pamphlet dealing with the death of Drummer Rigby, the soldier hacked to death by Islamic extremists near Woolwich barracks in 2013, found at Davies’ home
Davies later told police he had singled out Dr Bhambra because of his skin colour, yelling ‘white supremacy!’ and ‘this is revenge!’ as he attempted to sever his victim’s left hand.
White supremacist and neo-Nazi material was found when police later raided his home, with items including swastika badges, Combat 18 stickers, a copy of Mein Kampf and a Far Right pamphlet dealing with the death of Drummer Rigby, the soldier hacked to death by Islamic extremists near Woolwich barracks in 2013.
Davies was said to be obsessed with the ‘no compromise’ tactics of the Islamic State and Jihadi John. He owned a YouTube account on which he posted neo-Nazi videos.
Davies had posted an image of himself in a balaclava with a large knife and the flag of National Action (above) hours before he attempted to decapitate Dr Sarandev Bhambra
Neo-Nazi who planned to assassinate MP Rosie Cooper
Another prolific neo-Nazi is Jack Renshaw, a former British National Party youth leader who admitted to purchasing a 19-inch replica Roman sword to assassinate Rosie Cooper, the MP for West Lancashire in April 2019.
But the plan was scuppered by whistle-blower Robbie Mullen, who was at a meeting in a pub when Renshaw announced that he was going to kill Ms Cooper in July 2017.
National Action leader Christopher Lythgoe, of Warrington, and his right-hand man Matthew Hankinson, from Merseyside, who were present when Renshaw outlined his plans, were convicted of membership of NA in 2018 but cleared of encouraging Renshaw.
Jack Renshaw (above at a National Action rally) admitted to purchasing a 19-inch replica Roman sword to assassinate Rosie Cooper, the MP for West Lancashire in April 2019
Renshaw, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, also pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill detective Victoria Henderson, who was investigating him for grooming.
It later emerged he was jailed in June 2018 for 16 months after he groomed two underage boys – aged between 13 and 15 at time – using a fake Facebook profile.
The defendant had earlier received a three-year prison sentence when he was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred after he called for the genocide of Jewish people.
Renshaw denied membership of National Action, and jurors twice failed to reach a verdict on whether he remained part of the far-Right terrorist group after it was banned in 2016.
National Action leader Christopher Lythgoe (above), of Warrington, and his right-hand man Matthew Hankinson, from Merseyside, were convicted of membership of NA in 2018
Hankinson (left) and Lythgoe (right) were present when Renshaw outlined his plans
Photographs show the neo-Nazi at rallies for the group, but the date is unclear.
He was forced to leave Manchester Metropolitan University in September 2015 following an investigation into his incitement of racial hatred.
In a shocking speech delivered to the Yorkshire Forum for Nationalists in 2016, Renshaw said: ‘I do actually have some problem with the statement ‘Hitler was right’ in many senses but you know where he was wrong?
‘He showed mercy. He showed mercy to people who did not deserve mercy.
‘As nationalists, we need to learn from the mistakes of the National Socialists and we need to realise that no, you do not show the Jew mercy.’
Ex-Miss Hitler entrant among four ‘diehards’ jailed for membership
The most recent National Action members to be convicted of membership of the neo-Nazi group include a woman who competed in Miss Hitler beauty pageants.
Alice Cutter was found guilty of belonging to the terrorist group alongside her former partner Mark Jones and neo-Nazi ‘diehards’ Garry Jack and Connor Scothern following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court last March.
Cutter, who entered a beauty contest as ‘The Buchenwald Princess’ in reference to the Second World War death camp, was jailed for three years while Jones was handed a five-and-a-half year sentence.
Alice Cutter was found guilty of belonging to the terrorist group following a trial last March
Cutter, who entered a beauty contest as ‘The Buchenwald Princess’ in reference to the Second World War death camp, was jailed for three years
Sentencing, Judge Paul Farrer QC said Cutter was an ‘intelligent and strong-minded woman’ who had offered advice to the leadership of the group on training and security.
Her former partner Jones, then 25, had played ‘a significant role in the continuation of the organisation’ after its ban in December 2016, and was involved in organising training camps and ‘grooming’ recruits, he said.
The pair, who lived in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, were involved in trying to recruit schoolgirls aged 15 and 16 as part of a plan for teenage recruitment, according to the prosecution.
Cutter’s former partner Mark Jones (above with a copy of Mein Kampf) was jailed for five-and-a-half years
Neo-Nazi ‘diehards’ Garry Jack (left) and Connor Scothern (right) were also found guilty of membership following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court
Teenager who built a pipe bomb was jailed for downloading manuals
Nazi-obsessed Jack Coulson, who boasted he would kill a Jewish MP and ‘put two bullets in the back of her head’, was jailed in 2018 for downloading a bomb-making manual.
The teenager was found with ‘The Big Book Of Mischief’ on his mobile phone, which contains instructions on creating and detonating a wide variety of explosives.
Far-right fantasist Coulson, who ‘saw Hitler as a leader’, downloaded the manual while subject to a Youth Rehabilitation Order which banned him from using the internet, the court was told.
Nazi-obsessed Jack Coulson (above), who boasted he would kill a Jewish MP and ‘put two bullets in the back of her head’, was jailed in 2018 for downloading a bomb-making manual
The court heard he also drunkenly said he wanted to ‘kill’ Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger while staying in a hostel on January 3 but that he was not charged over the incident.
Coulson had been convicted of building a pipe bomb the previous February.
When searching his home in Bradford, officers found a white Samsung mobile phone containing the manual. They also found audio footage of a ‘Nazi Choir’, ‘marching military’ audio and a clip of a ‘screaming crowd’ with gunshots heard in the background.
The phone also contained images of handguns, suicide vests, swastikas and soldiers.
Coulson, who had ‘explained that his party was ‘National Action”, had previously built a pipe bomb and stashed it in bedroom desk drawer.
Police were alerted through suspicious Snapchat messages reported by a member of the public. Coulson was arrested and later claimed he never intended to use the bomb.
He was handed a three-year youth rehabilitation order at the age of 17.
Far-right couple who named their baby after Adolf Hitler
Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas, who were part of National Action and had a ‘long history of violent racist beliefs’, gave their child the middle name Adolf in ‘admiration’ of Hitler.
A search of the couple’s Oxfordshire home uncovered Nazi memorabilia, a Ku Klux Klan outfit and an arsenal of deadly weapons including crossbows, machetes and axes.
Pictures later emerged of Thomas, originally from the West Midlands, wearing the white hooded mask synonymous with the white supremacist group as cradling his young child.
The KKK robes that Thomas wore in a series of photos shown to the jury – including one with his baby – were inherited from his great-grandfather, a supporter of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.
Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas, who were part of National Action and had a ‘long history of violent racist beliefs’, gave their child the middle name Adolf in ‘admiration’ of Hitler
Born in Sutton Coldfield but raised in Birmingham, Thomas spent much of his childhood with his maternal grandparents, but he continued to see his parents.
The extremism that would lead him to National Action was already so ingrained in him that at school he was referred to the Government’s Prevent strategy after teachers overheard him racially abusing fellow pupils at the age of 13.
The only white child in his class, he was eventually expelled and went to a special school.
Thomas left without any GCSEs but in a bizarre turn of events two years later the self-confessed Holocaust denier moved to Israel, where he lived first in a kibbutz and then a college where he tried to convert to Judaism.
Born in Sutton Coldfield but raised in Birmingham, Thomas (above) spent much of his childhood with his maternal grandparents, but he continued to see his parents
A search of the couple’s Oxfordshire home uncovered Nazi memorabilia, a Ku Klux Klan outfit and an arsenal of deadly weapons including crossbows, machetes and axes
Asked about his child’s middle name, Thomas said it did ‘reflect an interest’ and ‘admiration’ of the Nazi leader
He met Patatas via the encrypted Telegram messaging app – also favoured by Islamic State recruiters – after flying back to the UK in 2016. Patatas was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, and graduated in English and Germanic philology. She had no known connections to the far Right.
Patatas moved to the UK in 2010 to live with a pagan far Right activist she met on a camping holiday. She fell under Thomas’s spell in November 2016 and soon became pregnant with their child.
Asked about his child’s middle name, Thomas said it did ‘reflect an interest’ and ‘admiration’ of the Nazi leader.
Patatas moved to the UK in 2010 to live with a pagan far Right activist she met on a camping holiday. She fell under Thomas’s spell in November 2016 and soon became pregnant with their child
He told the court: ‘It definitely doubles up as the name of Adolf Hitler.
‘It’s undeniable and I don’t make a secret of it. It does reflect an interest in that topic and admiration for what it represents.’
Thomas was jailed for six years and six months, and Patatas for five years.
Leading member of Nation Action’s Midlands’ branch
Another ex-National Action member to be convicted is Daniel Bogunovic, a leading member of the neo-Nazi group’s Midlands’ branch.
He was described as a leader and strategist for the organisation, and jailed for more than six years following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
The man, from Leicester, was a ‘committed National Action leader, propagandist and strategist’, according to prosecutors.
Another ex-National Action member to be convicted is Daniel Bogunovic (right), a leading member of the neo-Nazi group’s Midlands’ branch. Pictured left: Nathan Pryke
Darren Fletcher (left), of Wednesfield, West Midlands, admitted being part of National Action
Bogunovic already had a conviction for stirring up racial hatred by plastering Aston University in Birmingham with the group’s offensive stickers.
He was sentence alongside six others, including Thomas and Patatas.
Darren Fletcher, of Wednesfield, West Midlands, Joel Wilmore, of Stockport, Greater Manchester, and Nathan Pryke, of March, Cambridgeshire all admitted being part of the group at the beginning of their trial.
‘Outstanding’ corporal who served in Afghanistan
White supremacist and self-confessed racist Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen was convicted of being a member of National Action in November 2018 and was jailed for eight years.
White supremacist and self-confessed racist Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen was convicted of being a member of National Action in November 2018
The British Army veteran – who fought in Afghanistan and was described as an ‘outstanding’ soldier – was at the heart of the neo-Nazi terrorist group which set its sights on recruiting from within the armed forces.
He believed a ‘race war’ was coming and tried to establish an all-white armed stronghold in Powys, Wales, a court heard.
The Royal Anglian Regiment soldier, who served with distinction since 2012, was convicted of being a member of National Action following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
He was kicked out of the Army after his arrest in September 2017, along with another soldier, as he tried to form an underground network and stockpiled weapons.
A licensed firearms holder, Vehvilainen moved from Finland to the UK with his mother and sibling at the age of four when his parents’ marriage broke down.
His mother, formerly from Lincolnshire but now living abroad, said in court that as a teenager her ‘mischievous’ son was ‘a little bit challenging’.
Asked when he might have developed his ‘deeply offensive and racist views’, she said: ‘I really don’t know. I was in complete shock and disbelief [when he was arrested in September 2017].’
Vehvilainen believed a ‘race war’ was coming and attempted to recruit soldiers in the British Army. He was pictured performing a Nazi salute in his native Finland
Vehvilainen was previously known as an ‘outstanding soldier’ and boxer. Pictured above, believed to be in Afghanistan
When searching two properties, police discovered Vehvilainen kept swastika bunting, an SS ceremonial dagger and a ‘crudely made’ electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device at his home.
Officers also discovered a swastika flag, Adolf Hitler stickers, and a CD containing Third Reich music at his properties in Brecon and Llansilin, Powys.
Machetes, knuckledusters, a crossbow with arrows, a large knife and a hammer were also recovered from the properties.
He had a picture at the property in Llansilin, which showed him giving a Nazi-type salute at a memorial to his native Finland’s independence, in 1917.
Vehvilainen was cleared of possession of a terrorism document – the Anders Breivik manifesto found in Hannam’s bedroom in a later case – but he was jailed for being a member of National Action.
Regional commander who cowered in airing cupboard before arrest
Alexander Deakin was among the first eight Britons to be convicted of being a member of National Action after the group was proscribed in December 2016.
Alexander Deakin was among the first eight Britons to be convicted of being a member of National Action
The student, who acted as Midlands regional organiser and senior National Action member, was arrested while cowering in an airing cupboard after bragging ‘incompetent’ counter-terrorism officers would never catch up with him.
He was exposed as a member of the neo-Nazi group after being caught on CCTV putting up racially offensive stickers on Aston University campus.
Deakin was sentenced to 12 months for inciting racial hatred with the stickers, which had slogans including ‘White Zone’ and ‘Britain is ours – the rest must go’.
He was later jailed for eight years in April 2018 for being a member of the banned group National Action.
In messages from the encrypted chat app Telegram, Deakin had told fellow NA members that in a future ‘race war’ the organisation would have a ‘Ku Klux Klan-themed death squad’.
What is National Action and when was the neo-Nazi terror group formed?
National Action was the first extreme right-wing group to be proscribed since World War Two, and the 85th group to be proscribed in the UK.
It was most likely co-founded by Benjamin Raymond and Alex Davies in 2013 and operated by targeting university campuses as sites for flyering and recruitment in its ‘reign of terror’.
It was an uncompromising Neo-Nazi group that expressed virulent hatred for non-whites and ‘especially Jews’, glorifying Hitler and inciting violence against its perceived enemies.
Mark Jones, 25, had played ‘a significant role in the continuation of the organisation’ after its ban, and was involved in organising training camps and ‘grooming’ recruits, jurors heard.
The extreme right-wing group, labelled ‘racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic’ by the then-home secretary Amber Rudd, was banned in December 2016 after calling on followers to emulate the killer of the MP Jo Cox.
National Action was said to have recruited via close friendship networks or by word of mouth, never exceeding 100 members with no more than two or three dozen attendees at each rally.
In September 2013 the group released a ‘Strategy and Promotion’ document detailing their plans to ‘make way for National Socialism to enter British politics.’
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