Jack Renshaw admits planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper

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Jack Renshaw admitted two charges on the first day of the trial

An alleged member of banned far-right group National Action has admitted planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper.

Jack Renshaw, 23, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete with the intention of killing the Labour MP for West Lancashire.

He is among six men who deny being members of a proscribed organisation.

The Old Bailey jury was told National Action was a “neo-Nazi group” which in 2016 supported the murder of MP Jo Cox.

Renshaw has also admitted making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson.

He had previously denied the two charges, but changed his pleas at the start of his trial.

The other accused are: Christopher Lythgoe, 32, and Michal Trubini, 35, both from Warrington; Matthew Hankinson, 24, from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside; Andrew Clarke, 33, from Prescot, Merseyside, and Garron Helm, 24, from Seaforth, Merseyside.

Mr Lythgoe also denies encouragement to murder by allegedly giving Renshaw permission to kill Ms Cooper on behalf of the group.

‘Disenchanted former member’

Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, said the defendants were “not being prosecuted for their racist or neo-Nazi beliefs, however repulsive they may be, but for their participation in a banned organisation that sought actively through fear, intimidation and the threat of violence rather than through free speech and democracy to shape society”.

He said Renshaw was preparing a “politically and racially motivated murder”, and had sought the “blessing” of Mr Lythgoe.

Mr Lythgoe, the prosecutor added, was effectively the national leader of National Action and “nothing significant” happened without his approval.

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Julia Quenzler

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The six men deny membership of a proscribed organisation

He said National Action had engaged in a “campaign of virulent anti-Semitic and homophobic propaganda” since 2013.

It was formally proscribed in December 2016, but the defendants’ active participation in the organisation did not stop with the ban, Mr Atkinson said.

Jurors were told that – just before the ban – Mr Lythgoe sent an email to others members saying: “Long term we’ll keep moving forward just as we have been” – and the next day he wrote: “We are just shedding one skin for another”.

Mr Atkinson said evidence in the case would come from a “disenchanted” former member.

He said Robbie Mullen was a member of National Action before the ban, but became increasingly disenchanted with the organisation to the extent he began speaking to an Hope not Hate, an organisation seeking to combat extreme right-wing political racism.

‘White jihad’

At a 1 July meeting attended by the majority of the defendants and Mr Mullen at a Warrington pub, Mr Renshaw said he was planning to kill Rosie Cooper, the court was told.

Jurors heard Mr Renshaw said he had already purchased the 19-inch (50 cm) long machete, and it was later found at his home.

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Rosie Cooper is the Labour MP for West Lancashire

Mr Atkinson said Renshaw’s “objective was not simply to make a political point, as he put it to kill for National Action and White Jihad, but to revenge himself on those he considered to be persecuting him”, namely Lancashire Police, and Det Con Henderson in particular.

Renshaw told the meeting that after killing Ms Cooper, he would take hostages, and demand DC Henderson attend the scene, the prosecution claimed.

“His plan then would be to kill that officer who was, he said, his real target,” Mr Atkinson told jurors.

The court heard Renshaw had been arrested in January 2017 on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred over two anti-Semitic speeches he had given.

He was interviewed by DC Henderson and another officer and then for a second time after analysis of a seized mobile phone “revealed what the police considered to be evidence of child sex offences or grooming”.

Jurors were told that Mr Mullen, believing as he did that Renshaw was serious and there was an imminent threat to life, reported what had been said to his contacts at Hope not Hate and police eventually became involved.

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