Neo-Nazi group whistleblower describes comrade's plan to murder MP

A whistleblower has described the moment his former comrade declared he was going to "kill his local MP" in the name of banned neo-Nazi group National Action.

Jack Renshaw, 23 has admitted preparing acts of terrorism by buying a large Gladuis knife to murder Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, in July last year.

At a meeting in the Friar Penketh pub in Warrington, he announced his intentions in front of fellow National Action members, the Old Bailey heard.

Their leader Christopher Lythgoe, 32, suggested targeting then home secretary Amber Rudd before giving his blessing saying "Don't f*** it up", it is claimed.

The next day, disenchanted former National Action member Robbie Mullen tipped off campaigning charity Hope Not Hate and Renshaw was arrested.

Lythgoe denies giving Renshaw permission to murder Ms Cooper on behalf of National Action.

The pair, along with four other men, have also denied membership of National Action after it was banned in December 2016 for supporting the murder of MP Jo Cox.

Mr Mullen, who now works for Hope Not Hate, has been given immunity from prosecution over his former membership of National Action in exchange for giving evidence.

The 25-year-old, from Widnes, Cheshire, described the pub meeting on July 1 last year.

He said Renshaw was "going on about his ongoing legal issues" after being arrested for inciting racial hatred in speeches.

"He was on about police giving him trouble, coming to his family houses and making him out to be a paedophile.

"He said he was going to kill his local MP, Rosie Cooper. I said 'are you sure' and he said 'yeah'. There was a little bit of silence.

"He said he would kill her then try to take some hostages to lure the police officer that was investigating him to try to kill her because she was the reason behind it all.

Rosie Cooper
Rosie Cooper

Mr Mullin went on: "He said his mind was made up. He had bought a machete."

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC asked if Renshaw had explained why he was doing it.

The witness replied: "Because he did not want to go to prison. He said he bought the machete and he was going to kill her. And then he was going to get shot by police."

Renshaw allegedly said he would wear a fake suicide vest so he would be killed.

Mr Mullen said Lythgoe was smiling and nodding his head before asking if Renshaw was sure.

He went on: "Jack said he was sure, that he thought it through and Chris said 'make sure you don't f*** it up'. There was lots of silence."

He told jurors Lythgoe instructed Renshaw to get rid of any devices that might link back to the group, and suggested the home secretary Amber Rudd as a better target.

Mr Mullen said Renshaw dismissed the idea and told him he was going to make a "White Jihad" video to justify for the killing, but did not explain further.

Another alleged National Action member Matthew Hankinson also suggested a synagogue.

But Renshaw allegedly replied: "All Jews are the same, they are vermin, but I'm sticking with this original plan."

Mr Mullen told jurors Renshaw was "serious" and no-one at the meeting saw it as a joke.

Earlier, he told how he joined National Action in 2015 after becoming interested in the extreme far right at the age of 18.

He told jurors that the group stood for "the free white man" and was against "everything - Jews, blacks, Asians, every non-white".

Asked what National Action hoped to achieve, he replied: "Wipe them out by any means necessary. War, anything."

He implicated all the defendants in the extreme right-wing organisation, saying they continued to be involved with it after the ban.

Asked why he had first contacted Hope Not Hate in April last year, he said: "I honestly think to get out of National Action."

Renshaw, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire and Lythgoe, from Warrington, are on trial with Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth, Merseyside, Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, Andrew Clarke, 33, and Michal Trubini, 35, both of Warrington.

National Action arrests
National Action arrests

Earlier, jurors were shown National Action propaganda videos of demonstrations across England and Scotland in which men wore skull masks, waved banners and made Nazi salutes.

Some of the defendants, including Renshaw, were identified in the footage and Lythgoe and Hankinson also featured in a Mixed Martial Arts training video, the court heard.

Police Constable Matthew Fletcher explained the history of the self-styled "youth movement", which was described as "virulently racist".

He told how it was based on neo-Nazi ideology and hatred of members of Jewish, gay and ethnic minority communities.

It was banned after promoting the murder of Batley and Spen MP Ms Cox in tweets which called for her killer Thomas Mair's "sacrifice" not to be in vain.

Jo Cox commemorative events
Jo Cox commemorative events

The group founded in late 2013 by university students Alex Davies and Benjamin Raymond had targeted young men in their twenties, the court heard

Pc Fletcher said their black and white logo was similar to that of the Adolf Hitler's brown shirts.

National Action used stickers around universities and "flash demonstrations" in towns and cities.

Stunts by activists included the desecration of the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square, placing a banana in his hand.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.