Man who plotted MP murder will not face retrial over National Action membership
A neo-Nazi who plotted the murder of Labour MP Rosie Cooper will not face a retrial for membership of the banned group National Action.
Jack Renshaw, 23, bought a 19in (48cm) Gladius knife to kill the West Lancashire MP and a female police officer against whom he had a grudge, the Old Bailey heard.
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.
It came just a year after Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed and shot by a fellow far-right extremist, Thomas Mair.
Renshaw, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, had admitted making preparations to kill his local MP in 2017 and making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson who was investigating him.
But he denied membership of banned extreme right-wing group National Action along with Andrew Clarke, 34, and Michal Trubini, 36, from Warrington.
A jury deliberated for more than 48 hours but was unable to reach verdicts on any of the defendants on which at least 10 of them were agreed following a retrial.
Mrs Justice McGowan discharged the jury after being told there was no prospect of the jury reaching any verdicts if given more time.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told the court that after careful consideration a decision had been made not to seek a third retrial.
It can be reported today that Renshaw is a convicted paedophile who was jailed last June for 16 months after he groomed two underage boys online.
Jurors at Preston Crown Court found him guilty of four counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard how convicted National Action leader Christopher Lythgoe, 32, of Warrington, and his right-hand man Matthew Hankinson, 24, from Merseyside, were present when Renshaw outlined his plans.
Convicted National Action members Darren Fletcher, 28, Adam Thomas, 22, and his partner Claudia Patatas, 39, also met Renshaw in Liverpool earlier that day.
National Action is the first extreme right-wing group to be proscribed by the Government since the Second World War.
At its height, it had a membership of up to 100 mainly young white men, drawn from universities.
Dressed in black skull masks, they would gather for flash demonstrations, waving banners and making Nazi salutes.
In December 2016, it was banned by the then home secretary Amber Rudd over its support for the murder of Batley and Spen MP Ms Cox.
Lythgoe reacted to the news by telling members that they would “just shed one skin for another”.
The North West contingent continued to meet in pubs and train together at a new mixed martial arts gym in Warrington, it was alleged.
Meanwhile, disillusioned Mr Mullen, 25, began leaking information about National Action to campaign group Hope Not Hate.
By July 2017, Renshaw was on police bail for making hate speeches, for which he was later convicted.
He decided on “suicide by cop” rather than face a seven-year stretch in prison.
He bought a large machete to take revenge on a female investigating officer and kill his local MP.
Renshaw unveiled his plan at the Friar Penketh pub in Warrington on July 1 2017 to Clarke, Hankinson, Lythgoe and Mr Mullen.
Afterwards, Mr Mullen, from Widnes, Cheshire, reported the threat to Hope Not Hate and Renshaw was arrested.
Mr Mullen, who was granted immunity from prosecution, told jurors: “He said he was going to kill his local MP, Rosie Cooper. I said ‘Are you sure?’ and he said ‘Yeah’.
“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.
“He said his mind was made up. He had bought a machete.”
Renshaw said he would wear a fake suicide vest so he would be killed by police, Mr Mullen added.
The defendant declined to give evidence in his retrial, but in his first trial last year explained his reasons for targeting Ms Cooper.
He said: “I wanted to send a message to the state that if you beat a dog long enough it bites – she just happened to be my local MP.”
Giving evidence, warehouse worker Clarke said: “National Action was immature. I was tired of it. I was thankful for the ban.”
He told jurors a Swastika bookmark found in his sister’s loft was “a joke” and he only went to the Friar Penketh on July 1 on a “whim”.
He said: “Renshaw said something about an MP when I was drunk but I do not remember what he said. Whatever Renshaw was doing I heard it but I did not really pay attention because I was drunk.”
Office worker Trubini, who qualified as a teacher in Slovakia, admitted a shared ideology about white nationalism and opposition to multiculturalism.
The defendant met Lythgoe at a Sigurd camp, trained with him, went to Friar Penketh meetings, and attended demonstrations, jurors heard.
But he said: “I would not jeopardise my job to be a member of a group that had no real impact.”
Trubini insisted he was “politically naive” and having tried to read Mein Campf, found it “boring and badly written”.
The defendant, who was not at the July 1 meeting, went by the name Will Parry after a character in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials in encrypted chat.
He bought a Nazi flag in 2015 on a “spur of the moment” when he was exploring national socialism, adding: “My approach to subjects is more intellectual and more detached.”
As she discharged the jury from returning verdicts, Mrs Justice McGowan said: “You have obviously worked very hard. You have obviously been very diligent. You have obviously worked your way through all the material so we understand and respect the decision you have made.”
She remanded Renshaw into custody to be sentenced on May 17.