LONDON (Reuters) - Two Britons were jailed on Wednesday after being convicted of belonging to a banned white supremacist group following a trial in which another defendant had earlier pleaded guilty to plotting to kill an elected MP.
Christopher Lythgoe, 32, and Matthew Hankinson, 24, were found guilty at London’s Old Bailey Court of being members of National Action, a neo-Nazi organisation that claimed a race war was imminent.
The organisation was banned in 2016 after it praised the murder of Jo Cox, a female Labour MP, in a frenzied street attack by a Nazi-obsessed loner, the first far-right group to be outlawed in Britain since World War Two.
At the start of the trial, defendant Jack Renshaw, 23, admitted buying a machete for the purpose of killing another Labour MP, Rosie Cooper, as well as making a threat to kill a female police officer.
Prosecutors said the aim of National Action, which was formed in 2013, was to start a race war. The group had said it wanted to free white Britain from Jewish control and the spread of ethnic minorities.
Lythgoe was its self-appointed leader and the court heard he continued to keep it active after its ban, using a makeshift gym where members could train for race war. He was jailed for eight years while Hankinson was given a six-year prison term.
The jury were unable to decide whether Renshaw or two other men had been members of National Action and cleared another suspect of the same charge, media reported.
Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, Head of Investigations for Counter Terrorism Policing in northwest England, described the conviction of Lythgoe and Hankinson as a significant blow to National Action and its supporters.
“These individuals were not only intent on broadcasting their vile views and hate speech but were prepared to do so at whatever cost, with no regard for the people who they were openly wanting to harm,” he said in a statement.
In February, Britain’s former top counter-terrorism police officer warned that the country faced a significant threat from far-right terrorism and said four plots by right-wing extremists had been foiled in the previous year.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addsion