A neo-Nazi group with a member that plotted to kill an MP and a police officer was just a “motley crew” of nationalists drinking in their local Wetherspoons, a court heard.
Jack Renshaw plotted to kill his local MP Rosie Cooper and Detective Constable Victoria Henderson with a gladiator machete before hoping to be shot dead by the police during a hostage stand off, a court heard.
The 23-year-old also faced allegations of grooming children but claimed the evidence had been fabricated by the detective, jurors were told.
The alleged National Action member believed DC Victoria Henderson was trying to destroy his life and make him sound like a paedophile, it was said.
Alleged leader of the banned group, Christopher Lythgoe, is accused of giving permission for the planned attack in July 2016.
Lythgoe, 32, and Renshaw join Mathew Hankinson, 24, Andrew Clarke, 33, Michal Trubini, 26, and Garron Helm, 25, on trial at the Old Bailey on charges of belonging to a proscribed group.
The court heard today (Thurs) the only time violence broke out at a National Action demonstration was when Lythgoe did a Nazi salute in Liverpool in February 2016.
Richard Vardon representing Hankinson said the group were a “motley crew” fading into obscurity after being banned by then Home Secretary Amber Rudd in 2016.
He said: “You [Lythgoe] wanted to impose some sort of discipline and structure to those allied to National Action.
“The nature of the group’s activities prior to prescription was described as ‘bonding’ sessions with those who turned up at the Friar Penketh [the group’s regular pub].
“They were a bit of a motley crew, having so much attention focused on it by agencies on the state.
“This was an organisation which had had its day. You were looking for other ways to express your views.
“After proscription you were just a ‘talking shop’ fading away. Just a young man’s drinking club at the local Wetherspoons where you could chat about the woes of the world. National Action in effect ceased to exist, you were just a group of young nationalists meeting in a pub.
“Did you find it funny that the state was using its resources directed to National Action?
Lythgoe replied: “Yes. But at the time it was more about shocking people. I wanted to make it a bit more effective.
“We did it as deliberate shock-tactics to provoke people.
“We didn’t believe in violence. It was an ideological war against liberalism.
“He [founder Benjamin Raymond] believed very strongly in using shock-tactics to further the ideology.”
Lythgoe said he had been in National Action for 13 months at the time of his arrest, joining in 2013 after being drawn to the young age of members in the youth movement.
He took over as leader of the north west region from Ashley Bell, aka Tommy Johnson soon after joining, jurors were told.
Renshaw was described as “off the wall” in his anti-Semitism when he talked about attacking a Synagogue full of children.
Lythgoe added: “We didn’t take what he said seriously.
“We definitely liked and respected him, but didn’t take anything he said seriously.”
The morning after Renshaw told the other group members he planned to kill an MP, Lythgoe, Helm and Hankinson all slept on the mats of the group’s gym in Warrington, Cheshire, where they would train for a “race war, it was said.
The court heard Hankinson trained at the National Action gym to lose weight, after being around 19st.
Renshaw, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, Lythgoe, of Woolston, Cheshire, Helm, of Seaforth, Merseyside, Hankinson, of Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside, Clarke, of Warrington, Trubini, of Warrington, all deny being members of a proscribed organisation.
Renshaw admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of a terrorist act and to one count of making a threat to kill at an earlier hearing.
Lythgoe denies one count of encouraging an offence of murder.
The trial continues.