A 27-year-old man described in court as a Nazi has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years for being a member of a banned fascist group.
Alex Davies, of Swansea, was a member of National Action (NA) after it was outlawed in December 2016.
A jury found him guilty after it heard NA had not disbanded after its ban, but morphed into regional factions.
He was sentenced on Tuesday at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey in London.
Judge Mark Dennis QC also ordered him to spend a further year on extended licence.
During his trial at Winchester Crown Court, he was described as “probably the biggest Nazi of the lot”.
Some members of the group had celebrated the murder of MP Jo Cox and advocated a so-called “race war”.
Addressing the defendant in the dock, Judge Dennis said: “You are an intelligent and educated young man but you have held, over a period of many years, warped and shocking prejudices.”
Davies co-founded NA in Swansea in 2013, before leaving to study at Warwick University, in Coventry, a university he was subsequently forced out of due to his extremist views.
Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson told the court Davies had set up a group called National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action or NS131, which was also banned by the UK government.
Mr Jameson described it as a “continuity faction” of NA that covered the southern part of Great Britain.
Saying it was “expanding and recruiting”, he called Davies a “terrorist hiding in plain sight”.
Mr Jameson said NA and NS131 used the same colours, encrypted internet provider and ideology – a throwback to Nazi Germany – as well as the same leader, and regional structure.
He added: “Who was at the centre of all this? The founder, the galvaniser, the recruiter, one Alex Davies of Swansea. He was probably the biggest Nazi of the lot.”
‘Ideology of hatred’
In his defence, Davies claimed that NS131 was not set up as a continuation of NA and had different aims and processes, and he was only “exercising his democratic rights”.
Davies was the 19th person to be convicted of membership of NA, the first right-wing organisation to be banned since World War Two.
Fellow founder Ben Raymond, 33, of Swindon, had previously been found guilty at a separate trial of membership of a banned terrorist group.
In December last year, Raymond was jailed for eight years with a further two years on extended licence.
Together, Davies and Raymond had worked since the group’s creation in spreading an “ideology of hatred”, described as “incredibly dangerous” by counter-terrorism police.
The government acted after members of the organisation celebrated the actions of murderer and neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, who killed MP Jo Cox in June 2016.
Among those convicted of membership since December 2016 have been British soldier and Afghanistan veteran, Finnish-born Mikko Vehvilainen, and former Met probationary police officer Ben Hannam.
One of the group’s associates was convicted of making a working pipe bomb, while another, Jack Renshaw, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, later admitted plotting to kill MP Rosie Cooper with a machete.
Social media savvy
He was jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years.
Renshaw’s plot was only foiled after a National Action member blew the whistle on his former friends, reporting the plan to counter-extremist group Hope Not Hate, which passed the information to police.
NA was social media savvy, boasting self-taught propagandists among its ranks, though its membership never exceeded 100.
They created slick computer-generated imagery – including logos, and slogans for stickers, leaflets and posters – and targeted young people in particular for recruitment.
Some of their literature called for “white jihad”, but they had also created a policy document to “make way for national socialism to enter British politics”.
Other material had designs glorifying the anti-semitic messaging of Hitler’s Germany or praising the work of SS death squads.