Neo-Nazi who planned to murder Labour MP jailed for life

Jack Renshaw, 23, intended to kill Rosie Cooper and police officer Victoria Henderson

A neo-Nazi who admitted plotting the murder of the Labour MP Rosie Cooper has been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 20 years.

Jack Renshaw, 23, bought a 48cm (19in) “gladius” knife to kill the West Lancashire MP and a female police officer, DC Victoria Henderson, against whom he had a grudge.

The Old Bailey was told Renshaw, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, had admitted making preparations to kill his local MP in 2017 and making a threat to kill Henderson, who was investigating him.

The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, said Renshaw had shown extremist beliefs from a young age and attempted to “damage an entire system of democracy”. She said he was a high risk to the public and a “dangerous offender”.

Of the public servants he threatened, she said: “The dignity and bravery they have demonstrated show the true public spirit and public interest that motivated their work. You have not defeated them.”

McGowan said: “It is said you are young, naive and come from a troubled background. I take that into account … You are an intelligent young man. You are young, but you know full well what you have done.”

The judge proceeded to set the sentence at life with a minimum term of 20 years to serve.

Cooper said in a statement after the sentencing: “I believe today justice has been served. Not for me personally, but for every MP and public servant, and for our democratic way of life which affords us the privilege of free speech without fear of violent retribution.”

Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “A crime of this type against anyone is a serious matter but when our MPs are targeted it is also an attack on the democratic process and public service.”

After he was sentenced, Renshaw’s supporters in the public gallery expressed their dismay. One man said: “We are with you, Jack.” On being escorted from court, Renshaw made a Nazi salute to supporters.

His murder plot was mentioned in the Friar Penketh pub, Warrington, at a meeting attended by Christopher Lythgoe, the leader of the banned extreme rightwing group National Action, and others including Robbie Mullen. However, Mullen, from Widnes, in Cheshire, shared details of the plot with the campaign group Hope Not Hate and it was investigated by police.

Mullen has said his decision to reveal Renshaw’s plot changed his life but he “had no other choice”.

Speaking after hearing news of the sentencing, Mullen said the last two years had been “horrendous, stressful and very, very hard but I wouldn’t change a single thing I did”.

The court heard that Renshaw’s plan was to take some people hostage in a pub and when the police arrived to demand to speak to Henderson. “When the officer arrived, he would kill her,” said Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting.

“Renshaw said that after he had killed Henderson he would then commit suicide by cop by pretending to have a suicide vest on … He further stated he would make a video which would be released after the attack, which would state the attack had been done for ‘white jihad’.”

The evidence presented by the CPS that led to his guilty pleas included Renshaw’s online research in May 2017 on cutting the jugular artery and how long it would take someone to die from the wound.

The following month he bought the knife, which was described by the online seller as offering “19 inches of unprecedented piercing and slashing power at a bargain price”.

The court heard statements from Cooper and Henderson. The Labour MP said: “I wish I could say the planned attack has not changed me … but it has had a detrimental impact.” She said what he did was “absolutely unacceptable” in a democratic country.

Cooper explained that her “open door” policy with her constituency had since changed; everything had to be controlled and meetings were made by appointment. “The spontaneity and fun of the job has diminished and everything has to be controlled and vetted.”

Henderson said she had “sleepless nights” and became apprehensive going running on her own. “I have overcome this and will not let Jack Renshaw ruin my life,” she said.

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, defending, said there was no doubt Renshaw held rightwing views but there were signs of “green shoots of recovery”.

“No change will happen overnight but he has had greater social integration in custody than he has had in his life,” she said.

Before the sentencing, Bennett-Jenkins had argued that the court should consider the fact that Renshaw was young and vulnerable, and had been “groomed and indoctrinated” into extreme rightwing views from a young age.

Renshaw was jailed last June for 16 months for grooming two underage boys online. He also received a three-year prison sentence two months earlier when he was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred after he called for the genocide of Jewish people.

Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate’s chief executive, said: “Former National Action members are still active, successor organisations are being formed, and a threat still clearly remains.

“Too little effort has gone into understanding the mindset of those attracted into this violent, nihilistic breed of far-right terrorism, or the culture from which they emerge – or then enter.”


Sarah Marsh

The GuardianTramp

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