'Clean & Pure': Far-right extremists running Skye soap business
An organic, eco-friendly business on Skye is being run by far-right figures high up in the white nationalist group Patriotic Alternative.
Clean & Pure Soap advertises itself as “handmade on the isle of Skye using high quality ingredients”, touting its palm oil and cruelty free credentials and stating that its “packaging and wrapping is eco-friendly”.
Its website tells potential customers that they will receive 1g of “native British” wildflower seeds to help regenerate the countryside, as well as providing instructions on how to plant them.
However, The Herald can reveal that the business is run by Claire Ellis, Patriotic Alternative’s Scotland admin officer whose fiancé is Kenny Smith, a former BNP member who is the national admin officer for the group.
PA’s Scottish branch is described by anti-fascist and anti-racist group Hope Not Hate as “perhaps its most active” and has gained attention in recent weeks for protesting against asylum seekers being housed in Erskine.
Read More: How the small town of Erskine became a flashpoint for racial hate
Ms Ellis described the business on a PA live stream as an attempt at becoming “financially stable on my own” after being suspended from her job for refusing to wear a mask.
Asked by the Herald about her product she said: "My products are made from the finest natural quality ingredients and sourced locally where possible to reduce my eco footprint.
"Clean & Pure Soap also supports environmental issues, gifting Native Wildflower seeds with each order to support our bees. I’m not sure if this makes my products nationalist per se, I however am a proud nationalist."
Sam Melia, another leading figure in the organisation, said on the same call that being “self-sufficient” is a key goal for those with prominent roles in PA due to the risk of being exposed by anti-fascist and anti-racist groups.
David Lawrence, a senior researcher at Hope Not Hate says: “They’re a small group but very extreme, they make attempts to hide their extremism behind a kind of ‘family-friendly’ image.
“Putting across this ‘wholesome’ image is partly to undercut charges of extremism.
“PA as an organisation are very much a fascist organisation, they’re led by a man who recommends Mein Kampf to his audience, they’re rife with holocaust deniers, hardcore anti-semites and the rest of it but there’s this attempt to whitewash their image and I think these slightly kitschy brands play into that.
“It’s also a way to funnel money into the organisation so it can support its activism.
“They see themselves as dissidents outside of the mainstream so they’re attempting to set up means of support outside the mainstream because they’re aware the large majority of society views their politics with disgust.
“They’re aware they could lose their jobs over some of the beliefs that they hold, so it’s a way to secure against that.
“They see it as a way of achieving (financial) independence and thus being able to throw themselves more fully into activism, but these are very small concerns - I’d be interested to know the annual income of Clean & Pure Soap but I doubt it’s vast.”
Ms Ellis was previously based in Teighnmouth, Devon, and served an organiser for PA’s south-west branch, which flew a banner over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium in April 2022. She announced in May of that year that she’d be moving to Scotland to “start a new life” alongside Mr Smith.
Originally from Slough, she claims to have served in the Royal Navy. She got engaged to Mr Smith at Patriotic Alternative’s conference in Scotland in October 2022.
The company was founded alongside Jody Swingler, a popular streamer within the far-right movement who gained national attention when, using a pseudonym, she espoused the so-called ‘Great Replacement Theory’ in an LBC phone-in with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in 2020.
Ms Swingler described Ms Ellis as “the boss” of the company in a video call of PA activists in November 2021, which included leader Mark Collett. She is no longer involved with Clean & Pure Soap.
Collett, another former BNP member who has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and called AIDs a ‘friendly disease’, stated in the call that: “we’ve been building a network of nationalist businesses… all other ethnic groups are very good at keeping their money within their own group”.
Read More: Erskine hotel asylum seekers row: inside a community meeting
Mr Lawrence says: “One of the central aims of the group is to create cohesive far-right communities: in their ideal world a society away from society.
“They’re trying to establish their own communities away from the mainstream and they view these businesses, partly, as a way to do that – to try and keep money within their group.
“It’s an emphasis on internal trade and trying to support each other in that way and I think that’s the main aim.”
As well as having stalls at PA events and the group’s national conference in Scotland, Clean & Pure Soap has sold its products at craft fairs with no indication of the activity it helps to fund. The Herald can reveal Ms Ellis had a stall at a craft fair held at Dornie and District Community Hall on November 18 and 19. There is no suggestion organisers had any knowledge of the far-right links of the business.
Others appear to be similarly unaware of the white nationalist links to the company. Ms Ellis was recently named ‘Maker of the Month’ by micamoma.co.uk, one of her suppliers. Micamoma could not be reached for comment but there is no suggestion they are aware of the far-right links of Clean & Pure Soap.
Though the company presents itself on its website as being an environmentally conscious, hand-crafted product and hides its connection to the extreme right, Ms Ellis’ Twitter page for the business declares in its bio: “ethno nationalist and loves being white. Supporter of Patriotic Alternative”.
Clean & Pure Soap was named among Patriotic Alternative’s recommended Christmas gifts for 2021 and is listed on the website of Claymore Books, the far-right publishing imprint founded by Mr Smith.
Mr Smith, who twice stood for election in Glasgow’s Springburn as a BNP candidate, was accused by Unison of having waved a swastika on Hitler’s birthday on the Isle of Lewis.
He was ousted from the BNP after leaks posted on the party’s website suggested he was involved in running a blog which disparaged then leader Nick Griffin as well as Mr Collett.
Read More: Dunoon man arrested for distributing material of far-right group
Mr Smith was found guilty last year of firearms offences. Both he and Ms Ellis have been photographed in Erskine protesting the housing of asylum seekers in a local hotel.
There are a number of other companies heavily linked to Patriotic Alternative.
One such business is Grandma Towlers, run by PA deputy leader Laura Towler and her husband, Sam Melia. The company’s website states that it is “separate” from any other organisation but that “profits from the sales… will be invested back into projects that help our people and our communities”.
Ms Swingler and Ms Ellis both appeared on a live stream run by the Towlers in August 2021 where their product was advertised as ‘pro-white handmade soap’.
Other businesses recommended by Claymore Books include Celtic Moon candles, Faithful Hound Honeys & Syrups and Maypole Antiques. The Celtic cross is a symbol frequently used by far-right groups.
While PA is a fringe group with just a few hundred members it harbours an extreme ideology, with many members including Mr Collett having links to extremist group National Action, a neo-Nazi group which is the first far-right organisation to be banned by the British government since World War II ended.