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The far-right threat

A recent history of far-right violence in the UK

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The far-right narrative in the UK has become increasingly visible in recent years, particularly on social media, but in reality the far-right threat has been present in the UK for decades. Currently the movement is divided without a coherent plan of action, but a number of small, marginalised groups and radicalised individuals are posing a threat to Britain.

April 1999

Neo-Nazi David Copeland’s terror attacks aimed at London’s black, South Asian, and LGBT+ communities, left three dead and 140 injured. A former member of the British National Party (BNP) and the National Socialist Movement (NSM), Copeland told police that his aim was political. He said, “It was to cause a racial war in [Britain]. There’d be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people will go out and vote BNP.”

July 2007

Robert Cottage, an ex-BNP candidate, was jailed for stockpiling explosive chemicals. Police also found a bomb-making manual, as well as crossbows and four air rifles in his home in Lancashire. Cottage was convinced that “the evils of uncontrolled immigration” would lead to a civil war in Britain.

June 2008

Nazi sympathiser Martyn Gilleard, was convicted of preparing for terrorist acts when the police found four home-made nail bombs, bullets, swords, axes and knives in his flat. In his diaries, he had written that he wanted to “save Britain from multi-racial peril”.

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Nails recovered by forensic teams from the vicinity of the Tipton mosque bomb planted by far-right terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn, April 2013.

December 2008

Neo-Nazi Nathan Worrell was jailed for hoarding bomb-making materials in his home and harassing a mixed-race couple. In his flat, police discovered a bomb-making video by Combat 18, far-right propaganda, membership cards to the KKK and the British People’s Party. He was known to sign off his texts with 88 – a code for Heil Hitler – and posting racist stickers on lampposts.

July 2009

White supremacist Neil Lewington was jailed for planning a racist campaign of terror using tennis ball bombs. Police discovered four kilos of weedkiller, pyrotechnic powders, fuses and igniters, as well as Nazi literature in his home.

April 2013

Pavlo Lapshyn, a Ukrainian far-right terrorist living in the UK at the time, murdered Mohammed Saleem, an 82-year-old pensioner who was returning from the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham. Lapshyn had also planted bombs outside three mosques in his local area.

June 2016

Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair murdered MP Jo Cox whilst she was on her way to meet constituents. When he was asked to confirm his name in court, Mair said, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” Mair was heavily influenced by Nazism and white supremacist ideas. He attended far-right gatherings and subscribed to far-right publications. Police found Nazi regalia, far-right literature and bomb-making manuals in his home.

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Flowers and tributes for MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by far-right terrorist Thomas Mair, June 2016.

June 2017

Darren Osborne rammed a van into a crowd of Muslims leaving the Finsbury Park mosque after Ramadan prayers, killing one and injuring ten people. After the attack, Osborne allegedly said, “I want to kill all Muslims” and “This is for London Bridge” referring to the June 2017 London Bridge attack, which was committed by Islamist terrorists.

Even though far-right groups in Britain are quick to distance themselves from radicalised individuals whenever an attack takes place, their messages of hatred encourage these individuals to harbour violent views.

At Small Steps, we try to understand what leads people to violent white supremacist beliefs and aim to tackle the issue by engaging with at-risk individuals on a one-to-one basis. We help them integrate into their communities by teaching the virtue of empathy, dialogue and compassion.

If you need advice on how to steer someone away from far-right radicalisation, write to us or sign up to one of our workshops here.

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