National Action leader Christopher Lythgoe jailed for eight years

The leader of banned neo-Nazi group National Action has been jailed for eight years.

Christopher Lythgoe, 32, was arrested by police investigating a plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer.

It came just over a year after fellow Labour MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in her Batley and Spen constituency by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair.

The plan was foiled by a whistle-blower Robbie Mullen, who leaked details of a meeting at the Friar Penketh pub in Warrington to campaigner group Hope Not Hate in July last year.

National Action court case
Jack Renshaw at a National Action rally (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

Jack Renshaw, 23, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, has pleaded guilty to preparing to engage in an act of terrorism in relation to the plot and threatening a police officer.

He has also been convicted of stirring up racial hatred in speeches in 2016, it can now be reported.

Lythgoe, from Warrington, was charged with being a member of National Action after it was banned by the Home Secretary over its support for the murder of Mrs Cox.

He was also accused of encouraging the murder of West Lancashire Labour MP Ms Cooper by telling Renshaw not to "f*** it up" during the meeting on July 1.

A jury deliberated for 20 hours at the Old Bailey to find him guilty of membership of National Action but not guilty of encouraging Renshaw.

National Action trial
West Lancashire Labour MP Rosie Cooper was the target of a murder plot (PA)

Prominent member Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, was also found guilty of belonging to National Action and was jailed for six years.

The jury acquitted Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth, Merseyside, of the same charge.

Mr Justice Jay described National Action as having a "truly evil and dystopian vision" of waging a race war.

Without Lythgoe's obsessive determination to keep it going it would have "withered and died on the vine".

While numbers were too small to achieve its aims, there was a real risk it could have inspired acts of terror by its perverted ideology, the judge said.

Mr Justice Jay told Lythgoe: "You are a fully-fledged neo-Nazi complete with deep-seated racism and anti-Semitism.

He added that Lythgoe "did nothing to stop or discourage" the plot to kill Ms Cooper.

He told Hankinson that he was also a prominent member who hated ethnic minorities and Jews, and advocated violence.

Ms Cooper sat in court as the men were jailed.

The MP said in a statement: "I think it's awful that any public servant - teacher, nurse, doctor, police, MP - should be targeted and threatened with violence simply because of the job they do.

"To that end, I'd like to thank Robbie Mullen, whose information saved my life.

"I'd also like to thank Lancashire and Merseyside Police and the counter-terrorism police who have supported me greatly, and who have kept me, my staff and the general public safe."

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