Soldier in banned neo-Nazi group trial was 'given' propaganda on base, court told

A serving soldier accused of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi group National Action claimed a senior colleague handed him propaganda leaflets on an Army base, a court heard.

Private Mark Barrett, who had a swastika on his windowsill, claimed Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, gave him two of the group's flyers, one bearing the slogan White Jihad, and cracked racist "jokes".

Barrett also alleged the more senior soldier asked him to draw pictures of a Nazi swastika and a Second World War German panzer tank found in a sketchbook in his barracks accommodation.

The 25-year-old told police interviewing him after his arrest on suspicion of a terrorism offence at Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, that he found Vehvilainen "intimidating" and he "scared the crap" out of him.

Child sex offences court case
Birmingham Crown Court, where the three men are all on trial (Joe Giddens/PA)

Vehvilainen, a fellow Royal Anglian Regiment soldier, of Sennybridge Camp, Powys, is also on trial at Birmingham Crown Court alongside a 23-year-old male, who cannot be named, accused of National Action membership.

Barrett, then living at barracks at Cottesmore, Rutland, knew Vehvilainen as the 33-year-old lived in married accommodation on the base.

Asked what he knew about the banned group, he told police: "That guy, Vehvilainen, he approached me about it.

"He is a corporal in my battalion."

He added: "I had a coffee with him, and he started saying racial comments and had a joke about it, but didn't mean it, or anything sinister or anything like that.

"He gave me these two little things (leaflets) which I put in my wallet - and left there."

Barrett claimed he never again looked at the leaflets until they were pulled from his wallet after arrest by police.

He said: "It was more of a fact I knew of him in passing, working literally across the road from where I did at Cottesmore and asked me if I wanted to have a brew and I did.

"And then started making racial comments, and had a joke at first, and then he gave me those (leaflets) and that was it.

"I knew they were racist but I didn't know he was in, I couldn't remember it."

Barrett said the extent of his knowledge of National Action was "they're a bunch of racist guys".

Asked about whether Vehvilainen was a member, he said: "I don't know.

"But he is a very, very particular racist."

Asked about drawings in his sketchbook, he said: "Yeah I've got a book, a drawings book, but basically there's pictures that Vehvilainen asked me to do.

"I like to draw and always have done, so I drew a couple of pictures for him and that was it.

"One of them is a tank."

Twin attacks in Norway
Two of the men are accused of having a copy of white nationalist mass-murderer Anders Breivik's manifesto, which contained bomb-making instructions. (PA/PA)

He added: "He just said 'draw some pictures' and I assumed that's what he wanted so that's what I did.

"I don't think the pictures themselves were specifically racist I just think it had, excuse me, the swastika on them."

Vehvilainen, who has admitted having a CS gas canister, is also charged with possession of a terrorist document, the Anders Breivik manifesto, and two counts of stirring up racial hatred relating to two forum posts.

National Action were proscribed by the home secretary in December 2016, after a series of events including Twitter support for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox

Jurors heard how the other male on trial had claimed to have written a computer document planning an internal takeover of National Front, written after National Action were banned.

It read: "An opportunity for us like this comes round about twice a century.

"The white working classes are begging for a party to represent them, our time is now."

He is also accused of three counts of having a terrorist document, and one charge of distributing terrorist material.

The trial continues on Monday.

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