A Newton-le-Willows man has been jailed for his involvement in a banned neo-Nazi organisation.
He is one of two prominent members of National Action who have been sentenced today.
During a six week trial at The Old Bailey in London, the court heard how Christopher Lythgoe, the 32-year-old self-appointed leader of National Action, had planned for the far right organisation to continue despite it being proscribed in 2016.
The investigation into Matthew Hankinson, 23, from Newton-le-Willows began when police received intelligence that he continued to be a member of the organisation alongside Lythgoe.
The far-right group was formed in 2013 as a youth group who followed an extreme national socialist ideology and focused on recruiting people from a young, educated background. Their presence increased at demonstrations and far-right rallies up until 2016, when the group was branded a terrorist organisation, after its members showed public support for the murder of Jo Cox MP.
During the trial, the jury were shown a number of messages where Lythgoe, instructed the group to continue being active members of Nation Action but to ‘shed a new skin’ in order to avoid detection by the authorities.
His warped ideologies were shared by Hankinson and the two would often communicate using encrypted methods to discuss their "evil and dystopian" vision whilst remaining under the radar from authorities.
Both men would also use Lythgoe’s makeshift gym – known to members as the North West HQ for National Action - to prepare to become street fighters in a race war they claimed was imminent.
Addressing Lythgoe as he sentenced him to eight years in prison today (18 July 2018), the judge called him a fully-fledged neo-Nazi. The judge also said that Hankinson had a neo-Nazi perverted ideology as he sentenced him to six years imprisonment.
Detective Superintendent Will Chatterton, Head of Investigations for Counter Terrorism Policing for the North West, said: “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.
“Today’s result has enabled a spotlight to be shone on some of the sickening activities of the banned extreme right wing organisation, National Action.
“People who support extremism of any kind that threatens the safety of others can expect to be investigated by counter terrorism officers – something which, with the help of partner agencies, has made today’s outcome possible, resulting in a significant blow to National Action and those who share their extremist views.
“These people are not representative of our communities, they have no place in society and we will continue in our fight against those who want to bring a reign of terror to the UK, putting them behind bars where they are unable to continue their terrorist manifesto.”
Information can be passed to police by calling the confidential hotline on 0800 789 321.