Christopher Lythgoe

Christopher Lythgoe is the imprisoned leader of National Action (NA), the far-right British group banned as a terrorist organization in 2016. NA was the first far-right group to be designated a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom since World War II. Lythgoe assumed the leadership of NA after its proscription and instructed members on how to avoid government detection. A British judge described Lythgoe as integral to NA’s continued existence.Nadia Khomami, “Two members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action jailed,” Guardian (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/neo-nazi-group-national-action-members-jailed. Lythgoe was sentenced to eight years in prison in July 2018 for belonging to a banned organization.Martin Evans, “Leader of banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action, jailed for eight years,” Telegraph (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/18/leader-banned-neo-nazi-terror-group-national-action-jailed-eight/.

University students Alex Davies and Benjamin Raymond created NA in 2013 based on a neo-Nazi ideology and belief in an oncoming race war between whites and minorities.James Rodger, “How neo-Nazi group National Action targeted Britain's disaffected youth,” Birmingham Live, July 18, 2018, https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/how-neo-nazi-group-national-14923511. From 2013 to 2016, NA members performed Nazi salutes at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, held a Miss Hitler contest, and defaced a statue of Nelson Mandela in London.Steven Hopkins, “National Action: How Neo-Nazi Group Went From An Open Joke To An Alleged Army-Trained Terror Threat,” Huffington Post UK, September 5, 2017, https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/national-action-who-are-the-neo-nazi-group_uk_59ae84ace4b0dfaafcf26829. On June 16, 2016, Thomas Mair shouted “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain” as he shot and stabbed British Labour Parliamentarian Jo Cox to death.Danny Boyle  Raziye Akkoc, “Labour MP Jo Cox dies after being shot and stabbed as husband urges people to 'fight against the hate' that killed her,” Telegraph (London), June 17, 2016, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-shot-in-leeds-witnesses-report/. Though there is no direct link between Mair and NA, NA members praised Mair and adopted his cry in their propaganda.Richard Vernalis, “Alleged Neo-Nazi 'had sick “chat s**t, get banged” poster of murdered MP Jo Cox,’” Mirror (London), March 15, 2018, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/alleged-neo-nazi-had-sick-12190944. The U.K. government banned NA in December 2016. U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd called the group “a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology. It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.”“National Action becomes first extreme right-wing group to be banned in UK,” Gov.UK, December 16, 2016, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-action-becomes-first-extreme-right-wing-group-to-be-banned-in-uk.

Despite the proscription, NA continued to meet under Lythgoe’s leadership. He allegedly encouraged members to meet in smaller groups under different names to avoid detection.Lizzie Dearden, “National Action: Banned neo-Nazi terrorist group still active in UK after finding loophole,” Independent (London), September 8, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/nazi-group-uk-national-action-banned-still-operating-loophole-soldiers-arrested-terrorism-plot-a7937206.html. Lythgoe allegedly led the northwest faction of NA.Lizzie Dearden, “National Action trial: ‘Neo-Nazi’ admits terror plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a machete,” Independent (London), June 12, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/national-action-terror-plot-rosie-cooper-murder-labour-mp-jack-renshaw-nazi-a8395026.html. Authorities alleged that NA members met in Lythgoe’s home gym, which became known as the North West HQ for National Action.“Prominent members of banned neo-Nazi group jailed,” Greater Manchester Police, July 18, 2018, http://www.gmp.police.uk/content/TriageWebsitePages/DA8DA998DD91665E802582CE004A71E3?OpenDocument. According to witness testimony at his 2018 trial, Lythgoe took inspiration from the Irish Republican Army to keep the NA active after its proscription. Lythgoe allegedly instructed other NA members in an online chat after the ban: “Fight, be a political prisoner... the IRA never gave up, they got Ireland in return.”Stewart Paterson, “Alleged leader of banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘was inspired by IRA who “never gave up and got Ireland in return,”’” Daily Mail (London), June 14, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5845189/Alleged-leader-banned-neo-Nazi-group-National-Action-inspired-IRA.html. Lythgoe also allegedly set up training camps where NA members would practice combat with rubber knives and sticks in preparation for an expected race war.Stewart Paterson, “Alleged leader of banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘was inspired by IRA who “never gave up and got Ireland in return,”’” Daily Mail (London), June 14, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5845189/Alleged-leader-banned-neo-Nazi-group-National-Action-inspired-IRA.html.

According to former NA member-turned-whistleblower Robbie Mullen, Lythgoe and several other NA members met in a pub in Warrington, England, on July 1, 2017, to discuss what they called “race traitors.”Lizzie Dearden, “National Action trial: ‘Neo-Nazi’ admits terror plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a machete,” Independent (London), June 12, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/national-action-terror-plot-rosie-cooper-murder-labour-mp-jack-renshaw-nazi-a8395026.html. It was during this meeting that NA member Jack Renshaw declared his intention to kill his local member of parliament, Rosie Cooper of the Labour Party.“Banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘kept meeting,’” BBC News, June 14, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44489796. Lythgoe initially told Renshaw he should target U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd because of her higher profile, according to Mullen’s testimony. Renshaw allegedly said that Rudd would have too much security around her, and Lythgoe allegedly agreed to target Cooper.Stewart Paterson, “Alleged leader of banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘was inspired by IRA who “never gave up and got Ireland in return,”’” Daily Mail (London), June 14, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5845189/Alleged-leader-banned-neo-Nazi-group-National-Action-inspired-IRA.html; Martin Evans, “Leader of banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action, jailed for eight years,” Telegraph (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/18/leader-banned-neo-nazi-terror-group-national-action-jailed-eight/. The day after the meeting, Mullen reported the plans to the British NGO Hope Not Hate.Stewart Paterson, “Alleged leader of banned neo-Nazi group National Action ‘was inspired by IRA who “never gave up and got Ireland in return,”’” Daily Mail (London), June 14, 2018, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5845189/Alleged-leader-banned-neo-Nazi-group-National-Action-inspired-IRA.html.

On September 27, 2017, British authorities arrested Lythgoe and 10 other suspected NA members as part of a nationwide counterterrorism operation. The following month, Lythgoe was charged with encouragement to commit murder and belonging to a banned organization.“Group of men charged in National Action investigation,” Greater Manchester Police, October 26, 2017, http://www.gmp.police.uk/content/TriageWebsitePages/712453C70CE1CF8C802581C5004FF9BB?OpenDocument.

On June 12, 2018, a joint trial of Lythgoe, Renshaw, and four other alleged NA members began at London’s Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales. The other defendants included Garron Helm, Matthew Hankinson, Andrew Clarke, and Michal Trubini. On the first day of the trial, Renshaw pled guilty to preparing an act of terrorism by purchasing a machete with which to murder Cooper and a local police officer. Renshaw claimed that the plot was his alone and he denied membership in NA.“Jack Renshaw planned to murder MP ‘to send the state a message,’” BBC News, June 26, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-44622497; Lizzie Dearden, “National Action trial: ‘Neo-Nazi’ admits terror plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a machete,” Independent (London), June 12, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/national-action-terror-plot-rosie-cooper-murder-labour-mp-jack-renshaw-nazi-a8395026.html.

On July 18, 2018, Lythgoe was found guilty of belonging to a banned group and was sentenced to eight years in prison. According to Judge Robert Maurice Jay, NA continued to operate “on a modest scale” under Lythgoe’s leadership after its proscription, and would have otherwise “withered and died on the vine.”Nadia Khomami, “Two members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action jailed,” Guardian (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/neo-nazi-group-national-action-members-jailed. The court found Lythgoe not guilty of encouraging Renshaw to kill Cooper, but noted that he took no action to stop or discourage Renshaw.Nadia Khomami, “Two members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action jailed,” Guardian (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/neo-nazi-group-national-action-members-jailed. Hankinson received a six-year prison sentence.“Prominent members of banned neo-Nazi group jailed,” Greater Manchester Police, July 18, 2018, http://www.gmp.police.uk/content/TriageWebsitePages/DA8DA998DD91665E802582CE004A71E3?OpenDocument. Helm was acquitted of belonging to NA. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Renshaw, Clarke, and Trubini on charges of belonging to NA.Nadia Khomami, “Two members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action jailed,” Guardian (London), July 18, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/neo-nazi-group-national-action-members-jailed.

 
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