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11 people arrested in probe into National Action

Eleven people aged 22 to 35 have been arrested across England and Wales as part of a probe into banned extreme right-wing group National Action, police said today. 

The men were arrested on suspicion of offences including preparing terrorist acts, being members of a banned organisation and possession of terrorism documents.

Police have detained six men from the North West of England, two men from South Wales, another two from West Yorkshire and a further man from Wiltshire.  

A man stands with a flag of the extreme right-wing group National Action in Bolton, Greater Manchester, last year. There is no suggestion anyone pictured above is among those arrested

The neo-Nazi group became the first far-right organisation to be outlawed in Britain last year after the murder of MP Jo Cox, whose killing it had praised.

Earlier this month, three men, including two soldiers, appeared in court charged with being members of National Action and police said the men held in the latest arrests were part of the same investigation.

National Action became the first far-right organisation to be outlawed in Britain last year after the murder of MP Jo Cox (pictured)

National Action became the first far-right organisation to be outlawed in Britain last year after the murder of MP Jo Cox (pictured)

Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, the head of counter-terrorism policing in North East England, said: ‘Today’s arrests are part of coordinated action by the national Counter Terrorism network and UK policing.

‘Those who promote extreme right wing views are looking to divide our communities and spread hatred. This will not be tolerated and those who do so must be brought to justice.’ 

Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Russ Jackson, added: ‘We are committed to taking positive action such as this to remove those connected to organisations, such as National Action, from our communities.

‘Individuals involved in proscribed organisations who support extremist ideologies bring damaging consequences to local communities but with the help of the public and our partners, we will do everything we can do bring these people to justice.

‘All information received will be dealt with in the strictest confidence and can be passed to us anonymously by calling the Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321.’

Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North East and North West, Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit and Wiltshire Police conducted the arrests.

The 11 men aged 22 to 35 arrested in probe

  • A 24-year-old man from Seaforth, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation 
  • A 23-year-old man from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 33-year-old man from Prescott, Merseyside, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 31-year-old man from Warrington, Cheshire, on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 35-year-old man from Warrington on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act, funding terrorism and membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 22-year-old man from Lancashire has been produced from prison for police interview on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act and membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 28-year-old man from Swansea, South Wales, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation and possession of terrorism material/documents
  • A 23-year-old man from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 23-year-old man from Swansea on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 26-year-old man from Leeds, West Yorkshire, on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation
  • A 30-year-old man from Wiltshire on suspicion of membership of a proscribed organisation

Five men, including four serving soldiers, were held on suspicion of terror offences earlier this month by West Midlands Police – before three were charged with membership of National Action.

Also this month, a man from Northampton and another from Ipswich, both aged 24, were released without charge following police inquiries.

Last month, a senior police chief said the number of referrals to the authorities about suspected right-wing extremists had doubled since the murder of Mrs Cox.

The 41-year-old Labour politician was killed in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June last year by a loner obsessed with Nazis and white supremacist ideology. 

Eleven properties are also being searched, police said. National Action became the first extreme right-wing group to be banned under terrorism laws in December 2016.

The proscription meant that being a member of or inviting support for the organisation is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to ten years in jail.

In the official list of proscribed groups, it is described as a ‘racist neo-Nazi group’ that was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which ‘conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities’.

The document adds that the group is ‘virulently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic’ and says its activities and propaganda materials are particularly aimed at recruiting young people.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said: ‘CT (counter terrorism) policing is committed to tackling all forms of extremism that threatens public safety and security.

‘Investigations relating to alleged extreme right-wing activity are pursued with the same level or resource and vigour as other ideologies, in order to bring suspected offenders before the courts.

‘Today’s arrests, while resulting from two separate investigations, have been coordinated by our officers across a number of forces. This maximises operational effectiveness for police and minimises disruption for the local communities.’ 

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