National Action accused says group 'was dead'

Andrew Clarke giving a speech in Rochdale in 2016
Image caption Andrew Clarke giving a speech in Rochdale in 2016

A man accused of being in a banned neo-Nazi terror group has told a court it had become inactive and "was dead".

Andrew Clarke, 34, denies membership of National Action, which was proscribed under anti-terror laws in December 2016.

Mr Clarke, from Prescot in Merseyside, told the Old Bailey that "I was quite relieved it was banned."

He told jurors that after proscription "the group was dead" and "I was out of it."

Co-defendants Jack Renshaw, 23, from Skelmersdale, and Michal Trubini, 36, from Warrington, also deny membership on a date between the ban and September 2017.

Mr Renshaw has previously admitted planning to murder a female Labour MP in a terror attack.

'Be a political prisoner'

Giving evidence, Mr Clarke said he joined National Action after attending a far right demonstration in Newcastle in 2015.

He told jurors that after proscription he "was out of it" and wanted to "carry on with my career" and find a partner.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC, the defendant said he had become interested in far right politics when he felt "aggrieved" after watching videos and reading books that told a "different" story about World War Two.

When asked whether he agreed with a particular well-known white nationalist slogan, Mr Clarke responded "Am I on trial for my views?"

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Mr Clarke was photographed with convicted members of National Action Christopher Lythgoe (left) and Adam Thomas (right)

He also said the idea of a "race war" in the UK was "totally idiotic".

Jurors have previously been shown communications said to have been sent by Mr Clarke after National Action was banned.

In one message, he had allegedly written he did not care about the consequences, saying "id go back out there as NA rn [right now]."

Other messages included ones stating: "Fight, be a political prisoner… the IRA never gave up, they got Ireland in return" and "The NA brand has a huge amount of power now, because of the ban."

In a Facebook post allegedly written after the ban, Mr Clarke is said to have responded to an image of the Jewish MP Luciana Berger superimposed onto a lampshade by writing: "Hurry and die. Lots of hate. National Action."

The trial continues.

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