A man convicted of acting as “head of propaganda” for a banned neo-Nazi terror group set up to wage a race war in Britain has received an extended 10-year prison sentence.
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 into a new group called NS131 – National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action.
At Bristol Crown Court, Judge Christopher Parker QC sentenced Raymond to an eight-year prison sentence and a two-year extended period on licence.
Raymond will serve a minimum of five years and four months’ imprisonment before he can be considered for parole. He is also subject to the notification provisions of the Terrorism Act for 15 years.
Passing sentence, the judge said National Action planned to recruit young people into its ranks and Raymond’s role as the propaganda chief was in effect “grooming” them.
“You intended that the material should be used in order to recruit new members, and specifically new young members,” he said.
“It is clear this propaganda material was aimed at these young people. In effect these young people were at risk of being groomed by your material to commit acts of extreme racial violence which National Action no doubt had sympathy.”
Raymond, of Beechcroft Road, Swindon was found guilty by a jury of being a member of a proscribed organisation contrary to Section 11 of the Terrorism Act.
He 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 similar offences.
Barra McGrory QC, defending, sought to differentiate between National Action and terrorist groups like the IRA and al-Qaida.
“The views of the organisation are undoubtedly repugnant to many people in the UK,” he said.
“This is an extremely small group of individuals which is not one that is actually engaged in violent terrorist activity.
“Neither is it one that has a structure in terms of being organised into cells in militaristic guerrilla warfare, such as al Qaida or the Irish Republican Army.”
Mr McGrory said that since he was first arrested four years ago his “view of the world” had changed, having formed a relationship and become a father.
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.”
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.”
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’.”
At a National Action demonstration in Liverpool in February 2016, Raymond gave a speech threatening to “gas traitors”.
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 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.