Tag Archives: Mikko Vehvilainen

National Action was founded in 2013 by Ben Raymond and Alex Davies (pictured)

“Probably the biggest Nazi of the lot.”

That is how jurors heard Alex Davies, a “terrorist hiding in plain sight”, described during his latest trial.

Davies, 27, from Swansea, co-founded the neo-Nazi group National Action in 2013. He had seen it “grow from its small base in south Wales” to a national organisation, a judge said.

He was convicted of membership of a proscribed organisation between December 2016 and September 2017 after a trial at Winchester Crown Court in May.

Davies was then jailed for eight and-a-half years during sentencing at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey in London on 7 June.

National Action was one of the most extreme British far-right terror groups since World War Two.

Its members openly celebrated the death of Jo Cox MP and called for a “race war”.

One expert said the group was “so extreme you can’t go any further”.

Davies, who was once pictured giving a Nazi salute in a German concentration camp, remains an ardent national socialist with extreme far-right views.

His organisation preyed on young people, grooming them to follow his racist beliefs.

He lived in Uplands, Swansea, and his parents disagreed with his racist views.

Describing himself as “polite” and “high-achieving”, with others referring to him as bright and articulate, Davies said he “survived school and college but got into trouble at university”.

He joined the far-right British National Party as a teenager and was identified as a potential extremist through the Prevent counter-terrorism programme when he was just 15 or 16 years old.

A few years later, he left university when his far-right beliefs were exposed.

He then focused much of his time in growing National Action from his base in Swansea, heading up the south-west “branch”.

Alex Davies was pictured doing a Nazi salute at Buchenwald concentration camp

His attempts to spread his beliefs far and wide led to ambitions to stand for election in Swansea in 2017 after National Action was deemed a terrorist organisation by the UK government.

He attended National Front meetings in Bridgend in 2017, and wanted to stand as a county councillor.

Det Supt Anthony Tagg, a senior counter-terrorism officer, said he remained a danger.

He said: “He admits that he still holds that ideology, but states there’s nothing wrong with him holding that ideology, that he’s free to have those thoughts and ideas.

“We would say those are very dangerous thoughts and ideas. Somebody who sought, through violence, to forward that neo-Nazi ideology, we would say, remains a very dangerous individual”.

He added: “Working with partners and others we will seek to continue to mitigate any risk Alex Davies poses to communities across the UK.”

However, Davies was far from the only member of National Action with links to Wales.

Alex Davies and Ben Raymond founded the group

Ben Raymond, who co-founded the group with Davies, lived in Mumbles, Swansea, and was responsible for much of its racist, offensive propaganda.

He coined the term “white jihad” and was jailed last year for being a member of National Action.

Mikko Vehvilainen was a serving British Army soldier based at Sennybridge barracks in Powys when he was a member of National Action.

A self-confessed racist, he built up a private arsenal and wanted to turn the village of Llansilin in Powys, where he had a house, into a white nationalist stronghold. He was jailed in 2018.

Ben Raymond retweeted a post celebrating Jo Cox’s murder, the court heard

Alex Deakin, a former student in Aberystwyth, ran the West Midlands branch of National Action and spoke about modelling the group along the lines of the “IRA and Viet Cong”.

He was found with two explosives manuals, including a guide to making explosives, and was convicted of membership of National Action.

In 2015, Zack Davies, a 25-year-old National Action member from Mold, Flintshire, used a hammer and machete to attack a Sikh dentist in a Tesco store because of his skin colour.

Zack Davies shouted “white power” during the assault and was later convicted of attempted murder.

He had earlier posed for a selfie in front of a National Action flag while holding a blade.

Several members of NA had read and accessed copies of the manifesto of mass-murderer Anders Breivik – who killed 77 people, mostly children, in bomb and gun attacks in Norway in 2011.

Members held vocal rallies up and down the country, dressed in black, reminiscent of Oswald Moseley’s fascists of the 1930s, delivering Nazi-style salutes and carrying flags, some stating “Hitler was right”.

Alex Davies has become the 19th person to be convicted for membership of the banned fascist group.

National Action promoting one of its “conferences”

Alex Davies was described as “the founder, the galvaniser, the recruiter”, and would welcome fellow neo-Nazis to Swansea, take them for days out in Mumbles and for ice cream.

He jokingly told jurors: “The life of a terrorist.”

Prosecutors and counter terror police believe Alex Davies is unique in British history for founding two far-right terrorist organisations.

First National Action, and then the “continuity group” as it was described in court, NS131. They are organisations that now sit alongside the likes of so-called Islamic State, the IRA and Al-Qaeda.

It was put to Alex Davies in court: “You are a neo-Nazi, yes?”

He replied: “Sure.”

BBC News

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.”

‘Continuity faction’

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.

National Action was founded in 2013 by Ben Raymond and Alex Davies (pictured)

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.

BBC News

Joel Wilmore, 24, is originally from Lincolnshire

Joel Wilmore, 24, is originally from Lincolnshire

An IT worker and former Army reservist from Lincolnshire has pleaded guilty to joining a terrorist group.

Joel Wilmore has admitted being a member of the extreme right-wing organisation National Action, which was banned in 2016.

The 24-year-old called Muslims an “infection on western civilisation”, adding “they deserve the fire and brand just as much as the Jews” during a conversation on Telegram messenger in February 2017.

He was due to stand trial alongside other members of the group at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, November 12, but pleaded guilty before the court case began.

He will now be sentenced in a two-day hearing beginning on Friday, December 14.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

Wilmore will also be sentenced for possession of a terrorist document called Homemade Molotov Cocktails.

The IT worker, who used to live in the county but was not here at the time of the offences, was one of several group members busted by police.

These included serving British soldier Mikko Vehvilainen, who also has links to Lincolnshire, according to the Daily Mail.

Adam Thomas, 22, and Claudia Patatas, 38, were found guilty at the trial on Monday of being members of the group.

The crown court was told the couple had given their child the middle name “Adolf”, which Thomas said was in “admiration” of Hitler, and had Swastika scatter cushions in their home.

Photographs recovered from their home also showed Thomas cradling his new-born son while wearing the hooded white robes of a Ku Klux Klansman.

In conversation with another National Action member, Patatas said “all Jews must be put to death,” while Thomas had once told his partner he “found that all non-whites are intolerable”.

Former Amazon security guard Thomas and Patatas, a wedding photographer originally from Portugal who also wanted to “bring back concentration camps”, were found guilty after a seven-week trial.

A third defendant – a leading member in National Action’s Midlands chapter, Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester – was also convicted of membership.

Jurors heard he already had a conviction from earlier this year for stirring up racial hatred after being part of a group that plastered a Birmingham university with offensive National Action stickers.

Thomas, a twice-failed Army applicant, was also convicted on a majority verdict of having a terrorist manual which jurors heard contained instructions on making “viable” bombs.

Adam Thomas, 22, who has been convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Adam Thomas, 22, who has been convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Following the lifting of legal restrictions, details can only now be reported of how Vehvilainen, 34, and National Action’s Midlands organiser Deakin, 24, were both convicted of membership back in March.

Both were later jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for eight years and were the first members of the banned organisation to be convicted under terrorism legislation.

Deakin and Vehvilainen, who was thrown out of the Army on conviction, had been members of private chat groups alongside Patatas, Thomas and Bogunovic, discussing the group’s operations.

In a chat involving Thomas, Fletcher, Pryke, Patatas, Vehvilainen and Wilmore, in February 2017 – two months after the ban – Deakin was telling his fellow members: “All Jews need burning – it’s symbolic.”

In another chat, on March 30, Vehvilainen told his comrades: “These things will be decided when we have won the war against the Jews, deported the muds (Muslims), and cleansed our lands.”

During the Thomas-Patatas trial, a photograph was shown of Fletcher performing a Nazi-style salute in the couple’s lounge, as Patatas smiled and cradled her baby.



More images from what prosecutors called the “the Thomas-Patatas family album” showed Thomas brandishing a machete in front of a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) flag in the lounge.

Another photo showed him with a powerful crossbow – one of two found inside the house – while police found a makeshift firing range in their yard.

One of the crossbows was found under the couple’s bed, a few feet from the baby’s crib, along with an axe in a sheath.

During two police searches at their home, officers also recovered further weapons from an “extensive” arsenal, including two machetes, one with a serrated 18in (46cm) blade, in their first-floor bedroom.

Alexander Deakin, 24, who it can now be reported was convicted of membership of a terrorist group at an earlier trial in March

Alexander Deakin, 24, who it can now be reported was convicted of membership of a terrorist group at an earlier trial in March

The couple also had a National Action poster stuck to their fridge reading “Britain is ours – the rest must go”, and a pastry-cutter shaped like a Swastika, kept in a kitchen cupboard.

There was also a Christmas card on the sideboard showing three robed KKK figures and the message “may all your Christmases be white”.

In a message to “vehement Nazi” Fletcher, Patatas said “all Jews must be put to death”, while Thomas, originally from Kingshurst Road, Birmingham, told his partner, “all non-whites are intolerable”.

Nathan Pryke

Nathan Pryke

Fletcher, of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, was jailed for a year in 2014 for stirring up racial hatred after posting a video in which he dressed as a Klansman, and hanged a golliwog from a stage at a white supremacy event in Wales.

He was later jailed again for eight months for posting racist remarks online in 2015.

Thomas, a Holocaust-denier, told police he had held white supremacist views from the age of 11, and his stepfather was a member of white power band Skrewdriver.

However, it emerged during the trial that Thomas had travelled to Israel aged 18, where he lived for nearly two years.

He had considered converting to Judaism, he told jurors, despite also telling his trial that he believed the issue of whether the Holocaust happened or not was “complicated”.

Darren Fletcher, 28, who admitted membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

Darren Fletcher, 28, who admitted membership of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action

National Action was banned by the Government in December 2016, as “a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation”, in part because of its members’ support for the killer of MP Jo Cox, Thomas Mair.

In one message, Fletcher had said: “Mair had the right idea.”

During a conversation on Telegram messenger in February 2017, Thomas and Fletcher talked of “bumping off” MPs.

In the same conversation, Wilmore called Muslims an “infection on western civilisation”, adding “they deserve the fire and brand just as much as the Jews”.

Jurors heard evidence of more social media chats involving Thomas, Patatas and Bogunovic, discussing what prosecutors have alleged was National Action’s continuing operation, under a different name.

Pryke, who railed against “Jews” in the chats – and cleared his incriminating message logs every night – spoke with Thomas of a forthcoming “race war”.

Thomas, in a Skype message just days after the ban, said: “F***ing traitors. Midlands will continue the fight alone.”

Jurors also heard how Thomas and Patatas plastered National Action stickers in public locations after the ban, while Bogunovic was calling for a “leadership” meeting in a chat group for senior members in April 2017.

Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, said National Action had simply “shed one skin for another” by “re-branding” in order to evade the law.

In his trial opening, Mr Jameson said: “They were fanatical, highly motivated, energetic, closely-linked and mobile.

“And they all had, we say, a similar interest in ethnic cleansing, with violence if necessary, and the evidence in this case, we say, speaks for itself.”

Trial judge the Recorder of Birmingham Melbourne Inman QC told Bogunovic, Patatas and Thomas they and the three men who admitted membership prior to trial would be sentenced together in a two-day hearing beginning on Friday, December 14, and concluding on the Monday.

Turning to the jury, who deliberated for more than 12 hours, the judge added: “Thank you very much for your hard work.”

The three will be sentenced alongside Wilmore, 24, of Bramhall Road, Stockport, Greater Manchester, and goods drivers Pryke, of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge and Fletcher.

Wilmore will also be sentenced for possession of a terrorist document.

Patatas, who was bailed pending sentencing, left court without comment.

Following the convictions, West Midlands Police chief superintendent Matt Ward said that “National Action, the Midlands chapter… is no more”.

He added: “We’ve been able to dismantle one terrorist cell operating in the Midlands. It doesn’t mean there won’t be others, and it doesn’t mean they won’t adopt different names and identities going forward.”

Lincolnshire Live

Thomas - Patatas - Bogunovic

Thomas – Patatas – Bogunovic

Six people have been convicted of being members of the banned extreme right wing neo-Nazi group National Action.

The organisation was formed in 2013 and proscribed as a banned group by the government in 2016.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court found two men and a woman guilty today after three other men had admitted membership of the group before the trial.

Daniel Bogunovic, aged 27 of Crown Hills Rise, Leicester, Adam Thomas, aged 22, and 38-year-old Claudia Patatas − both of Waltham Gardens, Banbury, Oxfordshire − were all found guilty this morning.

Joel Wilmore, aged 24 of Bramhall Moor Lane, Stockport, Darren Fletcher, aged 28 of Kitchen Lane, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and Nathan Pryke, aged 27 of Dartford Road, March, Cambridge, all previously admitted their membership.

Wilmore - Fletcher - Pryke

Wilmore – Fletcher – Pryke

They will be sentenced in due course.

All six were arrested on 3 January and charged on 8 January with being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000; namely on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation (National Action) contrary to sec 11 of the Terrorism Act.

Thomas was also found guilty of possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to s.58 of Terrorism Act 2000 (possessing bomb making instructions).

Bogunvic was found guilty of inciting racial hatred under Sec 18 (1) of the Public Order Act 1986 after National Action branded stickers were found displayed in the grounds of the Aston University complex in July 2016.

Joel Wilmore also pleaded guilty to possessing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to s.58 of Terrorism Act 2000 (possessing bomb making instructions).

Darren Fletcher pleaded guilty to five breaches of his criminal anti-social behaviour order.

The court heard how the group used several methods to disguise their contact with each other such as using pseudonyms through closed, encrypted messaging platforms as well as regularly meeting in person to spread their ideology.

Top to bottom and left to right: Thomas in KKK robes holding son; Thomas with knife; Patatas & Thomas with son; Fletcher, Thomas & Patatas; Thomas & Fletcher; Thomas with crossbow

Top to bottom and left to right: Thomas in KKK robes holding son; Thomas with knife; Patatas & Thomas with son; Fletcher, Thomas & Patatas; Thomas & Fletcher; Thomas with crossbow

Talking about today’s verdict, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, said: “This result is a culmination of two years of painstaking work in the West Midlands and across the country to recognise and understand the threat of National Action.

“These individuals were not simply racist fantasists; we now know they were a dangerous, well-structured organisation. Their aim was to spread neo-Nazi ideology by provoking a race war in the UK and they had spent years acquiring the skills to carry this out. They had researched how to make explosives. They had gathered weapons. They had a clear structure to radicalise others. Unchecked they would have inspired violence and spread hatred and fear across the West Midlands.

“Today’s convictions have dealt a significant blow to National Action. We have dismantled their Midlands Chapter but that doesn’t mean the threat they pose will go away.

“Others on the periphery will take on leadership roles and so I ask for the public’s vigilance − if you see this group’s posters or stickers please report them to police − where there are new cells, we will intercept and prosecute them.”

Two men were convicted and sentenced earlier this year also for membership of National Action − Mikko Vehvilainen and Alex Deakin − however due to legal reasons restrictions were placed on reporting.

Vehvilainen - Deakin

Vehvilainen – Deakin

Vehvilainen − a 34-year-old lance corporal in the army − was jailed for eight years in April. Born in Finland, Vehvilainen was arrested by officers from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) at his army base in Brecon, Powys in September 2017.

At an earlier hearing, Vehvilainen admitted a separate offence of being in possession of pepper spray.

Det Ch Supt Ward said: “Vehvilainen’s role typified the progress that National Action wanted; he was a non-commissioned officer in the British Army with access to young men who could be radicalised and recruited into the group. He was an incredibly dangerous individual and a key part of the National Action strategy.”

Alex Deakin (24) was also jailed for eight years for being a member of National Action, distributing extremist publications and two charges of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism and distribution of a terrorist publication.

Top: Vehvilainen pictured performing Nazi salute Bottom left: Deakin and right: Vehvilainen's weaponry

Top: Vehvilainen pictured performing Nazi salute Bottom left: Deakin and right: Vehvilainen’s weaponry

Matt Ward continued: “Deakin had a long history with the far right movement, he held the mantle of regional coordinator to help facilitate online communications in the group. He turned it into a well organised cell in the midlands and as a result he’s serving a long sentence.

“Today’s guilty verdicts highlight the commitment by counter terrorism policing to tackle all forms of extremist ideology.

“We have seen many convictions over the past few years in connection with Syria-related terrorism and this work continues apace. But extreme groups such as National Action also have the potential to threaten public safety and security.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.

“If anyone has any suspicions over an individual’s behaviour and suspects them to be involved in this type of activity, I would urge you to report it to police as soon as possible. You can report suspicions online via ACT campaign’s website or call police confidentially on 0800 789 321. In an emergency dial 999.

“Suspicious activity is anything that seems out of place, unusual or just doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life – Let us decide if it is important.”

West Midlands Police

Claudia Patatas and Adam Thomas named their baby Adolf out of "admiration" for Hitler

Claudia Patatas and Adam Thomas named their baby Adolf out of “admiration” for Hitler

Three people have been convicted of belonging to the banned neo-Nazi group National Action. Adam Thomas, 22, and his partner Claudia Patatas, 38, were found guilty with Daniel Bogunovic, 27, of being members of the far-right group – which was proscribed under anti-terror laws after it celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

The BBC can now tell the story of National Action and the threat posed by its members.

It appeared to be a normal home.

The property, in a quiet part of an Oxfordshire town, was occupied by a couple who had just welcomed their first child into the world.

Neighbours sometimes saw the pair taking their baby out in a pram.

The male, who often dressed in combat trousers, worked as a security guard. The woman – a part-time wedding photographer – had, until recently, worked in a clothes shop.

But inside their house Adam Thomas and his Portuguese partner Claudia Patatas had created a disturbing world.

Adam Thomas

Their bedroom was strewn with weapons – machetes, crossbows, an axe under the bed, a Nazi-style dagger.

In the hallway were pendants bearing a black sun – a symbol associated with the SS and the occult – and the insignia of the Ku Klux Klan. Cushions emblazoned with swastikas decorated the lounge. In the kitchen, there was a swastika-shaped pastry cutter.

The fridge was adorned with a poster by the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, declaring ‘Britain is ours – the rest must go’.

Adam Thomas with his son

A memory card hidden beneath a floorboard under the dining table contained several startling photographs of the couple.

In one, Thomas holds the flag of Nazi Germany, while Patatas cradles their baby. In another, they pose with another man – Darren Fletcher – who is performing a Nazi salute.

Darren Fletcher, Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas

Darren Fletcher, Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas

Other images found on a mobile phone show Thomas, dressed in the distinctive white costume of the KKK, looking down at his son through the eyeholes of a white, peaked hood.

The baby, a little over a month old at the time, had been given the name Adolf by his parents – in tribute to the leader of Nazi Germany.

The pictures were found by counter terrorism detectives, who arrived at the property early in the morning of 3 January this year to arrest Thomas and Patatas for membership of National Action – a group that had been banned under terrorism legislation in December 2016.

Alex Davies (l) and Ben Raymond

Alex Davies (l) and Ben Raymond

National Action was founded in 2013 by Ben Raymond, now 29, and Alex Davies, now 24.

At the time Raymond, a recent politics graduate from the University of Essex, and avowed neo-Nazi, was living in Bognor Regis. After university, he had drifted into a job as a double-glazing salesman and would go on to work at a job centre, assisting claimants.

Much of his free time was spent online immersed in disturbing extreme right-wing content. He designed memes, edited videos, and wrote long diatribes, including for the obscure Integralist Party, which was seeking a “nationwide fascist army” for its “racial religion that inspires and demands fanaticism”.

Ben Raymond

It was that online activity that first attracted Davies, a University of Warwick student from Carmarthen, and member of the British National Party. By then, the party was in steep decline from its best ever performance in European elections four years earlier.

The pair believed that in recent years, British far-right organisations had diluted their message by seeking to appeal beyond their core support.

National Action’s founders determined that, in contrast, it would be unashamedly racist and overtly neo-Nazi.

Alex Davies

It had all the characteristics of post-war neo-Nazism – hatred of non-white and Jewish people, a worldview entirely based on racism, veneration of white “Aryans”, and lionisation of the Nazi era and its worst war criminals.

Davies was eventually forced out of Warwick university for his far-right political activities, and moved back to Wales, where he eventually found work as an insurance salesman.

The pair believed young people across the UK would eagerly embrace the group’s toxic blend of Hitler worship, Holocaust denial, and malicious conspiracy theories.

In reality, it would never exceed 100 members, and those it did attract were a disparate set of fanatics united by various deviancies and irrational hatreds.

No attempt was made at engaging in democratic politics, with the organisation instead regarding itself as a youth-based street movement. Its logo was strikingly similar to the paramilitary arm of the Nazi party – the Sturmabteilung, or SA

Recruitment focused on those in their teens and 20s, although some of those targeted were children of secondary school age.

The group’s strategy initially involved leafleting university campuses. But it soon turned to organising aggressive publicity stunts and city-centre demonstrations, with activities chronicled on the group’s website and social media channels.

As it grew, National Action developed into a clandestine network of small, regional networks, with senior figures in each cooperating at a national level.

National Action's regional map

National Action’s regional map

Members, who dressed in black during demonstrations, promoted the idea that the UK was on the brink of a “race war”, and that a predatory elite was deliberately encouraging immigration in an attempt to destroy the native white population.

The group claimed to be patriotic, but was hostile to all domestic institutions, the rule of law, the democratic process, and everyone who did not share its worldview.

Politicians and other public servants were a particular focus of hatred.

During one speech, senior National Action member Matthew Hankinson said they would ensure that “traitors” ended up “hanging from lampposts”.

“We must be ruthless – and if innocent people are cut down in the process, then so be it,” he said.

The organisation was openly genocidal and said that all Jewish and non-white people would have to go. In one document it declared that: “It is with glee that we will enact the final solution across Europe.”

But National Action did not restrict itself to admiration for the Nazis. Its members also took inspiration from the Khmer Rouge, the brutal regime that ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s under the Marxist leader Pol Pot; the radical right-wing Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Breivik; and even the Islamic State group.

Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

Online, the group announced: “We are the white jihad” and “Our motto is ‘Long Live Death!’ because only those who are willing to die for their beliefs are truly alive.”

The logic of such ideas ends in violence – and violence, both planned and executed, is what they generated.

In 2015, Zack Davies, a 25-year-old member from Mold, North Wales, used a hammer and machete to attack a Sikh dentist in a Tesco store because of his skin colour.

Davies shouted, “White power” during the assault, for which he was later convicted of attempted murder.

He had earlier posed for a selfie in front of a National Action flag while holding a blade.

Zack Davies

A few months later, Jack Coulson, a then 17-year-old member from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was arrested by counter terrorism police after posting images of a homemade pipe-bomb on Snapchat, along with threats against Muslims.

Coulson, who would be convicted of making explosives, had joined National Action months earlier and was associating with older members both in person and online.

Jack Coulson dressed in a Nazi uniform

Jack Coulson dressed in a Nazi uniform

On the day in June 2016 that Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by the white supremacist Thomas Mair, the teenager took to social media to say: “There’s one less race traitor in Britain thanks to this man.”

“He’s a hero, we need more people like him to butcher the race traitors,” Coulson continued.

An official National Action Twitter account also celebrated the murder, stating: “Don’t let this man’s sacrifice go in vain,” and “Only 649 MPs to go #WhiteJihad.”

By 2016, Christopher Lythgoe, a former regional leader for the North West, was heading up the whole group.

Raymond and Davies remained influential figures in the group, but it was Lythgoe, now 32, who sought to enforce structure and rigour on the entire organisation.

He lived with his parents in Warrington, worked infrequently in warehouses, and spent much of his time trying to turn National Action into a paramilitary-style organisation. He drew up detailed manuals, explained things like as how to carry flags correctly, and sent hectoring emails to other members.

In one, he wrote: “Just a reminder guys that National Action now operates what I like to call a No-Deadweight Policy. That means everyone trains in case we need it. We don’t carry anyone. No exceptions.”

He added: “Imagine what it will be like when we have 20, 30, 50 or more guys who can ALL punch unconscious an 18-stone adversary. AND we will fight as one disciplined body. That’s what I would call formidable unit. So like I said, We all train.”


Training included boxing, martial arts, and a series of outdoor training camps. One such camp – where participants were expected to “drink mead and live like Vikings” – ended in farce when one neo-Nazi ended up sleeping in a phone box to escape the rain and snow.

One need not consider the group’s paramilitary fantasies realistic to find them troubling and dangerous.

The threat National Action posed came from the hatred it encouraged, which generated a very real threat to the general public and anyone chosen as a target by those it radicalised.

A government assessment in late 2016 concluded the group was “concerned in terrorism”, and described it as “virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic”. It became the first far-right group to be proscribed in this country since World War Two.

National Action promoting one of its "conferences"

National Action promoting one of its “conferences”

Ahead of the ban, the group’s leadership came together via a secure conference call, including Lythgoe, founders Raymond and Davies, and regional organisers.

Lythgoe insisted the group carry on as usual – just without the name or more obvious public trappings.

In the days before the ban, he sent his followers a series of emails.

“Long term we’ll keep moving forward just as we have been,” stated one.

Another, sent to the regional leaders, said: “Make sure you maintain contact with ALL your members. Reassure them that they will be personally ok as long as they don’t promote NA from Friday on. Make sure that they understand that the SUBSTANCE of NA is the people, our talents, the bonds between us, our ideas, and our sustained force of will. All of that will continue into the future. We’re just shedding one skin for another. All genuinely revolutionary movements in the past have needed to exist partly underground. These are exciting times.”

One of those on Lythgoe’s mailing list was Alex Deakin, leader for the Midlands.

Less than two hours after getting the email, Deakin used the encrypted messaging app Telegram to create a chat group that became his main regional organising tool for National Action after the ban.

He called it the Triple KKK Mafia, a reference to the Ku Klux Klan. Over time, the chat group would have as many as 21 people in it.

He created another one – called Inner – which contained a select band of seven from the larger chat group.


Deakin, now 24, from Birmingham, was a university student who had been radicalised on the internet.

In September 2016, after spending two years studying in Aberystwyth, he dropped out and transferred to a history course at the University of Coventry.

He told one contact his path to National Action involved “getting redpilled by forums, spending years arguing online, and then finally deciding to take action when this group impressed me”.

Deakin regularly reported back to Lythgoe and co-founder Raymond, telling them about his efforts to recruit new members, organise existing ones, and spread National Action propaganda.

Alex Deakin

Messages in the year before the ban show the extent of his delusional ambitions.

In an exchange about targeting working class cities, he wrote: “We should move to radicalise these areas, turning them into NI [Northern Irish] style sectarian ghettoes would be the first target to fermenting race war.”

In correspondence with Lythgoe, Deakin stated: “Like the IRA and Viet Cong we’d need to have embedded local support among the communities we’d fight in; streets and cul-de-sacs would function as barracks as supportive locals would shelter us, and it would be necessary to fade into the background at moment’s notice.”

The nature of such conversations only intensified once the group had been proscribed.

In the Midlands, the organisation ceased overt campaigning, but members continued to communicate, meet up, seek new recruits, and encourage one another’s worst tendencies.

There were explicit references to the the fact that National Action still existed.

In one message, Deakin said: “Anyway the Midlands group continues under the name Triple K Mafia.”

In another, Adam Thomas wrote: “So since NA has been destroyed, the leadership generally of NA agreed it’s to be disbanded. No attempt at revival. But the Midlands branch of NA, which is just 17-20 of us, have decided to ignore this… Midlands will continue the fight alone.”

Messages in the Telegram group, numbering in the thousands, show members using violent racist language, discussing their desire for a “race war”, and fantasising about the murder of those they hated.

Deakin wrote that all Jewish people should be “burned”, and that Chinese and black people should be turned into “biofuel”.

A member from Wolverhampton, Darren Fletcher, 28, referred to Thomas Mair, the killer of Jo Cox, when he asked: “Why aren’t there more Mairs out there? We need a good few hundred of them to sort out these anti-white MPs.”

Darren Fletcher and Adam Thomas

Darren Fletcher and Adam Thomas

Fletcher, a truck driver and old friend of Adam Thomas, had once been jailed after posting videos on YouTube of himself on stage at an extremist music event dressed in a KKK outfit, hanging a life-sized golliwog doll from a noose.

When Fletcher wrote that people in government should be killed, he received support from Thomas, who said: “I agree bump them off but there’s 600MPs unless you take them all down in one go they will just replace each other.”

Claudia Patatas, who studied to postgraduate level in Portugal before moving to the UK over a decade ago, had spent years as a marketing professional.

In public she provided bland quotes to corporate journals, while in private she wrote messages exclaiming: “All Jews must be put to death” and “bring back those concentration camps.”

Claudia Patatas and a KKK flag in her home

Claudia Patatas and a KKK flag in her home

She told members of the group that “Adolf is life” and was enthusiastic about holding a celebration for Hitler’s birthday, recalling one she had attended in Lisbon years earlier.

“We had a cake with the fuhrer face,” she described, before adding, “I did struggle to slice his face

Perhaps the most dangerous member of the group was a serving lance corporal in the British Army.

Mikko Vehvilainen, now 34, joined the Army in 2012, having earlier spent time in the navy in Finland, the homeland of his father.

In an email to one friend, he wrote: “I’m only in to learn useful combat skills.”

The married father of young children, an adherent of a white supremacist interpretation of Christianity called Christian Identity, was a senior National Action member obsessed with ideas about the collapse of civilisation and racial war.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

In a diary entry last year, beneath the heading “key points for leadership meeting”, he referred to “later stages terrorism, civil disorder, destruction of infrastructure and power grid”.

In another document, he said there a was a need to be “prepared to fight and die for your race in a possible last stand for our survival”.

“Every part of me wants war. There is no other way,” he wrote in one message on Telegram.

His personal weapons collection, stockpiled for what he appeared to regard as imminent conflicts, included legally held firearms – as well as knives, machetes, knuckle dusters, a crossbow, a bow and arrow, pepper spray, handcuffs, and a so-called war hammer bearing the Biblical inscription: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked.”

Weapons found at Vehvilainen's home - and photo of him performing a Nazi salute

Weapons found at Vehvilainen’s home – and photo of him performing a Nazi salute

The solider, latterly based at the Army’s Welsh headquarters in Powys, actively sought recruits from those serving under him in the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Three men holding the rank of private were invited into the main Telegram group after Vehvilainen told Deakin they were “committed” Nazis.

One of them, Mark Barrett, wrote racist messages in the chat group, and had Vehvilainen, another of the soldiers, and a National Action member called Nathan Pryke, over to his army property where they spent an evening firing arrows at a burning cross in the back garden.

Vehvilainen, who served in Afghanistan, was also keen that civilian neo-Nazis join him in the forces, telling them: “If we get enough of us into the Army, we’ll be in the right place when things start to collapse.”

He wrote in the Inner chat group that National Action members should focus on gaining “military and key civil positions”.

Nathan Pryke

Nathan Pryke

Four National Action members in his circle had been, or were, attempting to join the Army: Alex Deakin, Adam Thomas, Nathan Pryke, a 27-year-old a van driver from Cambridgeshire, and Joel Wilmore, 24, originally from Lincolnshire, who had served in the Territorial Army before entering a sensitive job as an information security expert. This involved acting as an “ethical hacker” in order to test the strength of organisational IT systems.

Vehvilainen advised Thomas and offered to act as a referee of good character.

Thomas, in turn, asked if he could buy a gun from Vehvilainen and whether anybody would notice if assault rifles were stolen from his base.

But, before anything more could happen, the group was disrupted.

For several months, detectives from West Midlands Police had been investigating an incident in July 2016 during which several men had pasted National Action stickers at the Aston University campus in Birmingham.

In spring 2017, some of the suspects were arrested, including Alex Deakin.

Incriminating chat groups were found on his phone, and that of another man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

After being released under investigation, Deakin sent a panicked email to several National Action contacts. “My seized phone is full of texts that will mark me as an organizer,” he wrote. “I understand if you despise me for this sloppiness (it really couldn’t have been worse if I tried).”

Alex Deakin

Alex Deakin

Deakin’s “sloppiness” led to three trials at Birmingham Crown Court this year, many details of which can only be reported now that the final one has concluded.

The first, which ended in April, saw Deakin himself, Vehvilainen and soldier Mark Barrett strand trial accused of National Action membership.

Barrett was acquitted, but his co-defendants were convicted and received eight-year prison sentences.

The three had been arrested in September 2017, along with the other two soldiers in the chat group, both of whom were released without charge.

Only Barrett elected to give evidence, telling the court that he had not joined National Action despite being in the Telegram chat group and that he regretted his racist postings.

Mikko Vehvilainen

Mikko Vehvilainen

Deakin was also convicted of two counts of possessing documents useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism – including bomb-making manuals and an instructional book for white extremists – which were found on his laptop.

He was further convicted of distributing a terrorist publication, for sending a document called Ethnic Cleansing Operations to the National Action co-founder Ben Raymond and two other contacts.

Vehvilainen was cleared of stirring up racial hatred for using a Christian Identity online forum to write posts. Among other things, he wrote: “I have vowed to fight the Jew forever in any way possible,” and used the word “beasts” to refer to black people.

Referring to his position in the Army, he had written: “There are ways around everything and I’ve simply learned to avoid beasts.”

He added: “The sooner they’re eliminated the better.”

It is understood that both Vehvilainen and Barrett have since been discharged from the Army. The other two arrested soldiers were disciplined but not discharged, although one has since left voluntarily.

Lt Col Jackie Fletcher, from the Army personnel branch, described them as “exceptional cases”.

“These are very rare in the Army,” she said. “The Army’s value and standards are very clear for soldiers and any individual found to breach those value and standards will have action taken against them.”

The second trial, which ended in May, saw Deakin and three other men convicted of stirring up racial hatred in relation to the sticker campaign at Aston University – Daniel Bogunovic, 27, a warehouse worker and beekeeper from Leicester, Chad Wiliams-Allen, 27, a pre-ban National Action member and welder from West Bromwich, as well as a man in his early 20s who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Chad Williams-Allen, Daniel Bogunovic and Alex Deakin

Chad Williams-Allen, Daniel Bogunovic and Alex Deakin

In the third trial, that of Thomas, Patatas and Bogunovic, three other defendants pleaded guilty to membership of National Action in pre-trial hearings. They were Darren Fletcher, Nathan Pryke, and Joel Wilmore. Wilmore also admitted to possessing terrorist information, namely a document called Homemade Molotov Cocktails.

Thomas, who was also convicted of possessing a bomb-making manual, was the only one to give evidence.

The former Amazon security guard admitted being a racist and told jurors he had been exposed to such beliefs from a young age, adding that his stepfather was in a “white power band” and had started shaving Thomas’s head at the age of five.

He also described telling a female Holocaust survivor, whom he visited with a government de-radicalisation mentor, that he “couldn’t see” how she could have endured the WW2 Nazi death camps.

Thomas told jurors that, aged 18, he went to Israel and considered converting to Judaism because it would have allowed him to join the Israeli military

The BBC has spoken to people who knew Thomas in Israel.

David Simpkins, who shared a room with him at the Machon Meir yeshiva in Jerusalem, said his roommate used the name Avi Ben Abraham.

Simpkins said Thomas had described a “horrible childhood which he characterised as a situation of constantly being bullied, growing up with far-right British extremists who were also neo-Nazis”.

Thomas disclosed that he first “started learning about Judaism to discover why he was supposed to hate them,” Mr Simpkins recalled.

He described Thomas as “extremely intelligent” but said he had “an extreme approach to Judaism” and wanted to join a small fringe group which regards most Jewish people as heretics.

“The rabbis decided that Adam needed to deal with his childhood professionally and return to convert with a clear head,” he said. “He was making the common mistake many who desire conversion make, which is to replace one psychological extreme with another.”

Avishai Grosser, who works with converts, told the BBC that Thomas, who “knew big proportions of the Torah by heart”, dropped out of several conversion programmes and eventually ended up on the streets before returning to the UK.

It is understood that after he returned, he told people in far-right circles that his time in Israel related to an involvement with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement.

It was around this time that he got to know Patatas through National Action chat groups. They met for the first time at a pub social in December 2016 and soon moved in together.

Adam Thomas in Israel

Adam Thomas in Israel

Before proscription, National Action may have been “perceived as just one of those groups who incited racial hatred and were racist”, says Det Chief Supt Matt Ward from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.

He explains how the understanding of the threat it posed “changed considerably”.

Events after it was banned, he says, show: “A really dangerous, well-structured organisation at the heart of a neo-Nazi ideology that seeks to divide communities, is preparing to instigate and wage a race war within the United Kingdom and has spent years acquiring skills, tactics, weapons, recruiting and training people to be able to do that.”

As in the Midlands, National Action had continued operating covertly in the North West, but had continued more overtly in several other English regions and Scotland using the aliases NS131 and Scottish Dawn.

There are ongoing inquiries into people associated with the group, and several trials have already taken place elsewhere in the UK.

At the Old Bailey in July, Christopher Lythgoe and Matthew Hankinson, both from the North West, were convicted of membership offences in a trial that saw another man plead guilty to threatening to kill a female police officer and preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete in order to kill Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

Mr Justice Jay, sentencing Lythgoe and Hankinson to eight and six years in prison respectively, said their “truly evil and dystopian vision” could never “have been achieved through the activities of National Action, a very small group operating at the very periphery of far-right wing extremism”.

But he said, “The real risk to society inheres instead in the carrying out of isolated acts of terror,” inspired by what he described as the group’s “perverted ideology”.

What of the National Action founders who inspired such hatred?

We found Ben Raymond and Alex Davies living at separate addresses in Swansea.

Both were arrested in September 2017 on suspicion of membership of National Action but have been told they will not be charged. Raymond was also arrested on suspicion of possessing terrorist material and remains under investigation.

The police enquiries relate to their involvement with the far-right group NS131, which had been created after National Action had been banned. Last year, it was also proscribed.

NS131 promotional image

NS131 promotional image

The men have continued to make public pronouncements.

Earlier this year, Davies used an online neo-Nazi radio station to call for far-right activists to engage in a campaign of “direct action” against the Labour MP who succeeded Jo Cox as the MP for Batley and Spen.

Raymond used the same radio station to discuss the trial of Lythgoe and Hankinson while it was ongoing and declare the defendants “innocent men”.

The BBC asked both Raymond and Davies for an interview, but they declined.

We wanted to ask whether they accept any responsibility for all that has happened and about their relationship with National Action members since proscription.

For example, a private gym in Warrington set up by group leader Lythgoe for violent training sessions was made possible by £1,500 given to him by Davies – who then visited it along with members of the group after the ban.

Raymond continued communicating with members of National Action, post-proscription, via encrypted emails and applications.

He was an active member of both the Midlands Telegram groups – musing on racial theory, engaging in anti-Semitism, discussing his correspondence with neo-Nazis abroad, and lecturing the others on the threat from infiltrators.

On the day National Action was banned, Raymond had emailed several contacts, including Deakin and Lythgoe, to say he was “super excited about working on all the new projects”. Later chat messages show Deakin saying Raymond was responsible for designing propaganda material after proscription.

A hidden webpage containing Raymond’s designs over several years, which includes propaganda drawings depicting sexual violence, suggests he created logos for several proposed groups in the period after the National Action ban.

Deakin also kept on reporting back to Raymond – in the same way he had done before proscription – sending him messages about, for example, building dossiers on “problematic” individuals and a sinister idea about creating fake “rabidly anti-white propaganda” and “rabidly pro-Jewish propaganda to push people over the edge”.

When the BBC returned to Swansea with a television camera and approached Raymond in the street outside his bedsit, he swore at us and fled inside, refusing to answer questions.

What will happen to the National Action network in the longer term is unclear.

Already proscribed under two aliases – NS131 and Scottish Dawn – it may yet be banned under others, too.

The Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, based around the notorious British radical preacher Anjem Choudary, has been proscribed under nine other names, but the network of individuals has persisted and been involved in many acts of terrorism.

National Action is not the first violent neo-Nazi group in this country since WW2.

In the 1960s, members of several organisations attacked synagogues and engaged in paramilitary-style training. The far-right group Combat 18 was later involved in multiple acts of violence and intimidation. In the late 1990s, the London nail bomber David Copeland was an activist in the now defunct National Socialist Movement.

David Copeland who bombed the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho and other targets in London

David Copeland who bombed the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho and other targets in London

The neo-Nazi threat in this country, while persistent, is not large. But it is potent in that those radicalised by its ideas have given themselves to such a violent and hateful creed that some terrorist activity will inevitably follow.

The lies espoused by the extreme right – of Aryan supremacy and global Jewish conspiracies – are out there, old ideas spread by modern means, their promoters emboldened in and by the fractious political climate.

The danger also appears to be growing, with police reporting an increase in the number of foiled far-right terror plots – five since March 2017 – and the murder of Jo Cox and the Finsbury Park vehicle attack clear evidence of what radicalised individuals can do.

Last month, the UK’s most senior counter terrorism officer, Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, told MPs that around 80% of the 700 live terror investigations were focused on Islamist Jihadists, with around 20% now focused on others, including a “significant number of right-wing ideological threats”.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in the UK last year, an official review recommended an increased role for MI5 in tackling extreme right-wing terrorism, with the aim being to ensure equivalence in how terrorism is dealt with, irrespective of the ideology that inspires it.

Implementation of recommendation has started, with the security service beginning to take the lead for an area that has previously been the preserve of the police.

BBC News

A man has been jailed for eight years today after he was found guilty of distributing extremist publications.

The man − who cannot be named for legal reasons − was found guilty of two charges of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism and distribution of a terrorist publication.

A 33-year-old soldier − Mikko Vehvilainen – has also been jailed for eight years but details of this offence cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

Vehvilainen, who is a lance corporal in the army and born in Finland, was arrested by officers from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) at his army base in Brecon, Powys in September 2017.

At an earlier hearing, Vehvilainen admitted a separate offence of being in possession of pepper spray.
Following a search of his military address, officers found a war hammer which had “Isaiah 48:22” carved into the handle referencing a passage from the Bible – “There is no peace, says the LORD, for the wicked”.

Also found were throwing knives, two crossbows, a number of arrows and component parts of an electromagnetic pulse device. A mannequin was found in Vehvilainen’s garage which had knife marks in the torso area.

West Midlands Police

A man has been convicted of committing terrorism offences after he was found guilty of distributing extremist publications.

The man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was found guilty of two charges of possessing documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism and distribution of a terrorist publication.

A 33-year-old soldier – Mikko Vehvilainen – was also found guilty but details of this offence cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

Vehvilainen, who is a lance corporal working as a trainer in the army and born in Finland, was arrested by officers from West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) at his army base in Brecon, Powys in September 2017.

At an earlier hearing, Vehvilainen admitted a separate offence of being in possession of pepper spray.

Following a search of his military address, officers found a war hammer which had “Isaiah 48:22” carved into the handle referencing a passage from the Bible – “There is no peace, says the LORD, for the wicked”.

Also found were throwing knives, two crossbows, a number of arrows and component parts of an electromagnetic pulse device. A mannequin was found in Vehvilainen’s garage which had knife marks in the torso area.

A third man, 24-year-old Mark Barrett – a private in the military − also stood trial and was found not guilty of an offence which cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, who heads the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “We are committed to tackling all forms of extremism which has the potential to threaten public safety and security.”

Anyone who sees or hears something that could be terrorist-related should act on their instincts and call the police in confidence on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, always dial 999. Visit for more information, including how to report extremist or terrorist content that is online.
West Midlands Police

Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen found not guilty over Breivik manifesto after admitting having CS gas

A serving British soldier who kept a photo of himself giving a Nazi-style salute has been cleared of a terrorism offence.

Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen, a white supremacist who collected a host of legally held weaponry, pleaded guilty to a separate charge of having a banned canister of CS gas, which he kept in a drawer at a property he was renovating in Llansilin, Powys.

A jury at Birmingham crown court cleared him of possession of a terrorism document – a charge that related to a manifesto by the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik – and two counts of stirring up racial hatred, relating to forum posts on a white nationalist website.

Vehvilainen, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, kept a homemade target dummy in the garage of his barracks home at Sennybridge Camp, Brecon, and had a container filled with 11 knives, knuckle-dusters, a face mask and a box of Nazi flags, all legally held.

He kept a licensed shotgun, a crossbow and bow and homemade arrows, he had wiring and electrical parts capable of being made into a crude electro-magnetic pulse device, and he customised army-issue body armour, spray-painting it black. He also had a Hitler Youth knife and an SS ceremonial dagger.

Vehvilainen wrote to two men jailed for race crimes, including a man convicted of making antisemitic remarks to the Labour MP Luciana Berger, telling them “there is still hope”. He wrote a draft of an extreme rightwing magazine he entitled Extinction, in which he railed against mixed-race relationships, “unnatural” homosexuality and “non-whites”.

Vehvilainen’s phone showed 900 visits to a white nationalist website,

Vehvilainen’s barrister, Pavlos Panayi QC, told jurors at the start of the trial that it was “not in dispute that he [Vehvilainen] is a racist”, but he said it was not a crime simply to hold such views.

The prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said that in collecting weapons Vehvilainen was “putting into effect his repeated call, quite literally, to arms on the part of those who, like him, wanted to create a white-only society”.

An entry in a notebook found at Vehvilainen’s address, read: “Be prepared to fight and die for your race in a possible last stand for our survival.”

Atkinson said: “The lists [of weapons], and indeed the substantial quantity of weaponry recovered from his address, reveal and speak to his intention to stockpile weapons and other equipment in preparation for the ‘race war’ that he spoke of.”

In Vehvilainen’s wardrobe, where he kept his uniform, police found a Nazi flag pinned to the inside of the door. When he opened the door for officers, he turned to them and said: “That’s what this is about, isn’t it?”

On his arrest on 5 September last year, Vehvilainen told his wife: “I’m being arrested for being a patriot.”

He was on trial alongside Pte Mark Barrett, 25, also of the Royal Anglians, and formerly of Kendrew barracks, Cottesmore, Rutland. Barrett was acquitted of a charge of membership of the proscribed far-right organisation National Action.

A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cleared of having Breivik’s manifesto but convicted of three other terrorism offences.

Vehvilainen and the 23-year-old will be sentenced on Friday.

The Guardian

Mikko Vehvilainen accused of membership of banned neo-Nazi group

 A court sketch of Mikko Vehvilainen, left, and Mark Barrett, centre, on trial at Birmingham Crown Court. (Image: Elizabeth Cook)

A court sketch of Mikko Vehvilainen, left, and Mark Barrett, centre, on trial at Birmingham Crown Court. (Image: Elizabeth Cook)

The “racist” views of an Army trainer and alleged recruiter for banned neo-Nazi group National Action do not make him a criminal, a jury has been told.

The barrister for 33-year-old Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen told jurors on Wednesday it was “not in dispute that he is a racist”.

Pavlos Panayi QC said: “It is not disputed that he has written and said things which the vast majority of people will find utterly repulsive, about black people, Jews, Muslims and lots of other minority groups.

“It is not disputed he has associated with other racists, men and women, from what might be called the Far Right, that might include neo-Nazis, and other different groups of people.”

But he added that while the “groundbreaking case” would test the limits of free speech and freedom of association in Britain, Vehvilainen’s actions were not criminal.

Vehvilainen and fellow Royal Anglian Regiment soldier, 25-year-old Private Mark Barrett are both on trial accused of membership of the far-right organisation, which was banned by the government in December 2016

Also facing the same charge at Birmingham Crown Court is a 23-year-old male who cannot be named for legal reasons, but who was described in court as a “regional leader” for the group.

The jury heard how Vehvilainen had a host lawfully held weapons including “guns, knives and crossbows” which he kept at his Army accommodation in Sennybridge Camp, Powys.

Jurors were also told he had pleaded guilty to unlawfully having a canister of CS spray among those weapons.

Addressing the jury after the prosecution’s opening speech, Mr Panayi said: “In many ways this case is unprecedented because you have heard that National Action was the first far-right group to be banned since the Second World War and this is the first prosecution arising out of that ban.

“It is a groundbreaking case.”

He added: “This case will test the limits of free speech, the freedom to say what you think and the freedom to frighten, offend and discuss.”

The QC said: “You are, in the end, going to have to determine in this case where the boundary lies between L/Cpl Mikko Vehvilainen’s right to speak freely, to think what he chooses to, and associate with others who share his views and where that boundary lies.

“Whether it crosses over into the reaches of criminal law or not.”

Vehvilainen, who is married with children, is also accused of two counts of stirring up racial hatred through posts on the US-based website, where he used the name NicoChristian.

He has been further charged with possessing a document likely to be of use to terrorists – a copy of white nationalist Anders Breivik’s manifesto.

Counsel for Barrett, of Dhekalia Barracks, Cyprus, where he lived with his wife and children, also told the jury the case was “not about assessing the morality of expressing prejudicial opinions all right-minded people might recoil from”.

Colin Aylott said: “Are the hallmarks of membership truly present in what he did, and how he expressed himself?

“Ask yourself – casual racist of committed fanatic?

“Because that is the issue you have to decide in this case.”

Addressing the court on behalf of the defendant who cannot be named, barrister Christopher Knox claimed National Action “did not exist” as an organisation after it was banned.

Mr Knox said of the 23-year-old: “We will submit to you that he is no terrorist.

“He was involved with National Action and he held views which he well understands you might find really distasteful, but those are views he was, and is, entitled to hold.”

The court heard that the male had made attempts to join the Army.
Birmingham Mail