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Swansea man guilty of being a member of a banned fascist group

17 May 2022 10 minutes Read
Founder of banned terrorist organisation National Action Alex Davies arrives at Winchester Crown Court. Picture by Andrew Matthews / PA Wire.

The founder of fascist group National Action (NA) has been found guilty of continuing to be a member of the neo-Nazi organisation after it was banned.

Alex Davies from Swansea, described as the “biggest Nazi of the lot”, was convicted following a trial at Winchester Crown Court of being a member of the proscribed organisation after it was banned on December 16 2016.

The 27-year-old had set up the “continuity group” NS131 with the aim of getting around the ban, which was brought into place after National Action posted “congratulatory” tweets following the murder of MP Jo Cox.

Davies, wearing a blue suit and opened-neck white shirt, nodded his head as the majority verdict, agreed by 11 of the jurors with one disagreeing, was announced by the chairman.

Judge Mark Dennis QC adjourned the case for Davies – the 19th person to be convicted of membership of NA – to be sentenced on June 7 at the Central Criminal Court.

He said: “The defendant must appreciate it’s inevitable a custodial sentence will follow.”

Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, told the jury that NA had “terrorised” towns across the country with its call for an “all-out race war”.

The group was a throwback to Hitler’s Germany and based its logo and image on the Sturmabteilung – the paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, he said.

Davies, who formed NA while at Warwick University in 2013, told an undercover reporter at the time that he did not want to say what he would do to Jews, because it was “so extreme”.

And in 2016 he travelled to Germany where he posed holding an NA flag and giving the Nazi salute in the execution chamber of the Buchenwald concentration camp, causing indignation in the country where Nazi idolisation is illegal.

Following the ban, NA split into regional factions and Davies set up NS131 – which stood for National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action – to cover the southern part of the country and which itself was later banned by the Government.

‘Exremist’

Comparing the two groups, Mr Jameson said: “The same name – National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action (NS131) – take out the three middle words and you are left with a big clue: National Action.

“Same colours – black and white, colours of Sturmabteilung. Same look of designer Benjamin Raymond, a convicted NA member.

“The same ideology – a throwback to Nazi Germany.

“The same leader – this defendant, who makes it all happen. Same regional structure – adapted and re-drawn following proscription, and so many familiar faces from the old guard.”

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.”

Mr Jameson continued: “The defendant was an extremist’s extremist.”

Davies, from Swansea, told the court 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”.

He also told the jury that he was “not a violent” person and he did not believe in the holocaust.

Davies said his aim was for the repatriation of black, ethnic minority and Jewish people from the UK to make it a whites-only country, apart from those carrying out “essential” jobs.

Matthew Collins, head of Intelligence at anti-fascist campaign group HOPE not hate, said: “It took a long time to bring Davies to justice – he acknowledged that himself.

“He has had his finger in the pie of far-right terror and extremism for nearly 10 years. He was on bail for five years. This has taken too long, but we welcome it nonetheless.”

Nick Price, head of the CPS counter terrorism division, said: “It is clear that Davies secretly set up a new right-wing terror group after the ban on National Action and had a leading role in recruiting people to join the group.

“My team has worked hard to prove that he was a willing and important member of National Action, and worked to avoid the ban and keep the racist and hateful views of National Action alive.

“This included travelling thousands of miles to meet new members. I am glad that he has been convicted today for his crimes.”

‘Dangerous’

Counter-terrorism chiefs believe they have now dismantled the extreme right-wing terrorist group linked to an MP murder plot, and whose ranks included a British soldier and a police officer.

Alex Davies became the 19th person to be convicted of membership of banned group National Action after the 27-year-old was found guilty at Winchester Crown Court.

The group’s co-founder was key in developing the organisation’s “neo-Nazi” ideology, which had bid to build a “white supremacist homeland within the UK”.

It followed conviction of the group’s fellow founder, 32-year-old Ben Raymond, of Swindon, who was found guilty at a separate trial of membership of a banned terrorist group.

Together, Davies and Raymond had worked since the group’s creation in 2013 in spreading an “ideology of hatred”, described as “incredibly dangerous” by counter-terrorism police.

“The risk National Action presented was clear,” said Superintendent Anthony Tagg, head of the West Midlands’ counter terrorism unit, which led the investigation to break up National Action and Davies’ successor “continuity” group, NS131.

The organisation was outlawed by then-home secretary Amber Rudd at the end of 2016, who branded it “racist, antisemitic and homophobic”.

It became the first right-wing organisation to be banned since the Second World War.

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.

He was jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years.

Renshaw’s gambit was only foiled after a National Action member bravely turned on his former friends, reporting the plan to counter-extremist group, Hope Not Hate, who passed the information to police.

National Action was social media savvy, boasting self-taught propogandists 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 antisemitic messaging of Hitler’s Germany or praising the work of SS death squads.

Davies himself once posed with a National Action flag in the killing rooms of the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald.

Several of their members 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”.

Ironically, it was, in-part, their successful fly-posting of the Aston University campus in Birmingham in 2016 which helped bring them to the attention of counter-terrorism officers.

One of the posters they put up read “Britain is ours – the rest must go”.

Despite the relatively young age of the membership, they were well organised, with regional convenors who used social messaging apps to organise “socials”, rallies, martial arts training sessions and camping trips.

Speaking after Davies’ trial, Mr Tagg said: “The risk National Action presented was clear.

“They, through their recruitment, sought to identify individuals in what they considered to be positions of authority; within the British Army, within policing.

“They sought to utilise those positions to further their ideological cause.

“They, through the work they’d done, gathered together weapons, had gathered together material that talked about the creation of explosive devices, and one of them had created a pipe bomb and was prosecuted successfully for that.

“National Action were incredibly dangerous, and the ideology they espoused was an ideology of hatred, which caused division in communities across the country.”

He added: “We’ve done a huge amount of work… to dismantle that prescribed organisation (and) to bring to justice those who were members of that organisation.

“I can’t sit here today and tell you that there aren’t individuals across the country who still hold extreme right-wing, racist ideological mindsets.

“But what I can assure you is that where where that is found, we will investigate them and we will bring those individuals to justice.”

Background

The founder of the first right-wing group to be banned since the Second World War first came to the attention of the authorities because of his extremist views at the age of 15.

Alex Davies was the co-founder of National Action (NA) while studying philosophy at Warwick University in 2013 when he was 19 years old.

But it was four years before this that he first referred to the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, although he told his trial that he did not engage at this stage because they “did not contact him”.

It was with the creation of NA with co-founder Benjamin Raymond that Davies helped form an organisation that went on to “terrorise” city centres up and down the country with its rallies calling for an “all-out race war”.

National Action, described in court as a “throwback” to Hitler’s Germany, soon hit the headlines after an undercover journalist infiltrated the group and exposed its fascist views calling for black, ethnic minority and Jewish people to be expelled from the UK.

Davies, who was described in court as “the biggest Hitler of the lot”, was reported as telling the journalist that he did not want to say what he wanted to do to Jews “because it was so extreme”.

Following the publicity and a campaign on campus, Davies, the son of an engineer and a kitchen worker, was asked to leave the university and he went on to focus on his role running NA.

National Action went on to spread its “white Jihad” message by social media, stickers, posters and city centre demonstrations, with one in Liverpool ending in violence following a confrontation with anti-fascist campaigners.

In court, Davies, from Swansea, described himself as “not suited” to violence and he denied that he supported the murder of Jews while stating that he believed the holocaust did not happen.

But the jury was shown a photograph of him holding the NA flag and performing a Nazi salute in the execution chamber of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany in May 2016.

And it was “celebratory” tweets posted by NA following the murder of MP Jo Cox in June 2016 that led to the group’s ban under terrorism laws.

Davies was also pictured attending a number of paramilitary training camps, both while as a member of NA but also with NS131 – the continuity group he set up after his original group’s proscription.

Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, told the jury that NS131 was just NA acting under a new name, focusing on the southern part of the UK.

He said: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there’s a racing certainty it is in fact a duck.”

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.

“The defendant was an extremist’s extremist.”


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