LONDON, United Kingdom — The leader of a banned British neo-Nazi group was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday over a plot to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer.
Christopher Lythgoe, 32, leads National Action, which was banned in 2016 after supporting the stabbing and shooting murder of another Labour MP, Jo Cox.
He was convicted of membership of the group and stirring up racial hatred but found not guilty of encouraging Cooper’s murder at London’s central criminal court.
The plot to murder Cooper was uncovered after a whistle-blower leaked the details of a meeting at a pub in Warrington in northwest England to campaign group Hope Not Hate in July 2017.
Jack Renshaw, 23, who was at the meeting, has pleaded guilty to preparing to engage in an act of terrorism in relation to the plot and threatening a police officer.
Judge Robert Jay said National Action had a “truly evil and dystopian vision” of waging a race war.
Without Lythgoe’s determination to keep the group going it would have “withered and died on the vine,” he said.
“You are a fully fledged neo-Nazi complete with deep-seated racism and anti-Semitism,” the judge told Lythgoe.
Cooper was present at the sentencing, but later returned to the House of Commons where she was cheered by MPs.
“This case should remind everyone of the ongoing threat posed by the British far-right. While numerically small and splintered, the British far right is growing in violence,” said Hope Not Hate deputy director Jemma Levene.
Levene also said that anti-Semitism remains central to the British far-right.
“This case should also be a timely reminder about how anti-Semitism continues to be at the very heart of this movement. Renshaw was convicted earlier this year for vile anti-Semitic speeches. He told the court that he wanted to kill Rosie Cooper because she was the local representative of the Jewish-controlled state,” she said.
National Action had around 100 members at its height.
British police have warned of a “growing” risk from the extreme right in Britain, saying that four extreme right plots were averted last year in Britain.
Cox was killed in her Batley and Spen constituency in northern England a few days before the Brexit referendum in 2016 by a neo-Nazi sympathizer.