National Action informer 'told charity about MP murder plot'

By Daniel De Simone
BBC News

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Jack Renshaw (L) has admitted planning to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper (R)

A court has heard about the moment a whistleblower warned his contact of a neo-Nazi plot to murder a Labour MP.

Matthew Collins, from anti-racism charity Hope not Hate, said he was on holiday when a member of the banned far-right group National Action told him "Jack is going to kill an MP soon".

Jack Renshaw, 23, has pleaded guilty to preparing an act of terrorism by buying a machete to kill Rosie Cooper.

The West Lancashire MP said she was given extra security after the threat.

Renshaw, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, has also admitted making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson, who was investigating him for child sex offences and inciting racial hatred.

But he and five other defendants are currently standing trial in the Old Bailey after denying membership of National Action between December 2016 and September 2017. The group was outlawed in 2016.

Pub murder plot

Robbie Mullen began informing on the group after contacting Hope not Hate in April 2017.

Mr Mullen had been a longstanding National Action member and has told the court he remained so after it was banned, along with the six defendants.

"It was like a cult and he [Mr Mullen] wanted out," Mr Collins told jurors.

Mr Collins said that on 1 July 2017 he was in Portugal when he received a late-night message from Mr Mullen asking him to "call me ASAP".

When they spoke the following morning, Mr Mullen told him about the plot to kill an MP, which Renshaw had discussed during a meeting in a Warrington pub, the court heard.

"I said what's the emergency and he said Jack is going to kill an MP soon," Mr Collins told the jury.

Image source, Julia Quenzler / Hope not Hate
Image caption,
Witness Robbie Mullen, who used to be a member of National Action, spoke to Matthew Collins from Hope not Hate charity

Mr Collins said there was confusion about the intended target of the attack as "I'd never heard of Rosie Cooper."

"I said 'you don't mean Yvette Cooper.'"

Mr Collins told the court he then thought "he meant Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper's husband".

He said that Mr Mullen had told him that Renshaw was due to answer police bail the following week and that if the "decision didn't go his way he was going to carry it [the murder] out as soon as possible".

The court heard how the charity then contacted Labour MP Ruth Smeeth - who once worked for Hope not Hate - and told her about the threat, which she passed on to Rosie Cooper.

Mr Mullen now works for Hope not Hate.

In a witness statement read by the prosecution, Ms Cooper said that, after returning to her constituency in the following days, "though threats had been made against me I continued with my engagements and the police provided additional security for me".

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

Mr Lythgoe, who is accused of being National Action's leader, also denies encouragement to murder for allegedly authorising Renshaw's plot on behalf of the group.

The trial continues.