Man convicted of acting as propaganda chief for banned neo-Nazi group

·5-min read

A man has been convicted of acting as “head of propaganda” for a banned neo-Nazi terror group set up to wage a race war in Britain.

Ben Raymond, 32, co-founded the “unapologetically racist” organisation National Action in 2013, which promoted ethnic cleansing, as well as attacks on LGBTQ people and liberals.

It was banned under terror legislation in December 2016, becoming the first far-right group to be proscribed since the British Union of Fascists in 1940.

After the move by the Home Office Raymond, from Wiltshire, helped National Action morph in to a new group called NS131 – National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action.

Ben Raymond
Ben Raymond gave a speech at a National Action demonstration in Liverpool alongside convicted terrorist Jack Renshaw (West Midlands Police/PA)

Raymond, of Beechcroft Road, Swindon denied being a member of a proscribed organisation contrary to Section 11 of the Terrorism Act but was convicted on Tuesday after a three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court.

He did not give evidence in his defence.

Raymond was further convicted of two counts of possessing a document or record of use to a terrorist contrary to Section 58 of the Act.

These documents were entitled, “2083 – European Declaration of Independence by Andrew Berwick” and “Homemade Detonators by Ragnar Benson”.

He was acquitted of four further offences under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act.

The father-of-one was remanded into custody by Judge Christopher Parker QC and will face jail when sentenced on Friday.

Ben Raymond
Custody image of Ben Raymond (West Midlands Police/PA)

The judge thanked the jury for their work as “trial by an independent jury is one of the hallmarks of a free society”.

“It is perhaps ironic, given the nature of the allegations here and the ideologies you have heard so much, that you should have been called upon to provide your services for this particular task,” he added.

“It is very, very important for our society to continue to function in a free way that citizens should give up their time and their effort for this type work.”

The court heard National Action members had access to rifles, a pump action shotgun, a machete, a crossbow and CS gas.

But prosecutor Barnaby Jameson QC likened Raymond to Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, and said he avoided plotting attacks or hoarding weapons himself.

Instead, Raymond was described as the “public face” of National Action.

“His jihad was fought with words and images. He was, like Joseph Goebbels of the original cabal of Nazis, the natural head of propaganda,” Mr Jameson said.

“He gave media interviews, setting out the group’s virulent ethnic cleansing agenda to the media with sometimes transcendental calm. Other times his message was more direct.

“The defendant had a role – pre-ban and post – in the leadership and direction of the group, in its ideology, its activism, its recruitment and its operations security also known as ‘OpSec’.”

In September 2015, Raymond gave an interview for a segment on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme called Radicals: The Proud Racist.

Raymond told the interviewer his ideal Britain was a “white Britain”, and claimed migrants were coming to the UK “to replace, rape and murder our people”.

He also penned two books on his views. In his first – titled Attack! – he wrote: “We are done mincing our words, now we need something that flames the blood and fans the honour.”

“We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else – we exist, and continue the battle for the final victory of our race.”

In his second book, A Case for Fascism, he wrote: “Nobody has ever gotten anything by being ‘moderate’. Nobody has ever gotten anywhere by being ‘nice’.”

“While all is still ‘good’ with the world we will be the most despised people on earth, but right now we who are hated are needed more than ever.”

At a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016, Raymond gave a speech threatening to “gas traitors”.

Speaking through a megaphone, he described Liverpool as a city “where every day the enemies of this nation preach their race-mixing communism”.

National Action members at a demonstration in Liverpool (West Midlands Police/PA)
National Action members at a demonstration in Liverpool (West Midlands Police/PA)

Raymond said: “The front pages of the newspapers and the TV shows said, ‘Stop the white man march’. And do you know who is responsible? Not the people that are afraid that we are going to make Britain great again but the ones who are afraid we are going to gas them all for being traitors, and we will!”

The jury was told Raymond was also linked to other convicted neo-Nazis such as Jack Renshaw, who is serving a life sentence for plotting to murder Labour MP Rosie Cooper in 2017.

In a Skype chat with convicted National Action member Daniel Bogunovic, Raymond said: “Renshaw’s f***ing owned. He can blast Jews better than any Klan leader alive or dead.”

As well as his work promoting National Action and NS131, Raymond also created images for a Midlands-based group called KKK Mafia, and was in a chat group for its members on Telegram.

In the aftermath of the murder of MP Jo Cox, members discussed which politician would be killed next – settling on Shabana Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Ladywood.

Matthew Collins, from HOPE not hate, said: “Ben Raymond is a Nazi who has consistently shown admiration for terrorism, and propagated an extremist politics that glorifies racism, antisemitism and misogyny.

“It is our sincere belief that Raymond’s actions are almost singlehandedly responsible for a new generation of ‘bedroom terrorists’, a growing number of young men who have become radicalised by Ben Raymond and are now obsessed with carrying out terror attacks in the name of Raymond’s ‘White Jihad’ philosophy.”