More rightwing terrorist plots have been prosecuted in the North East than in other areas of the UK, a spokeswoman for the police’s North East regional counter-terrorism unit has told The Big Issue in the North.
Data released by the Leeds-based unit reveal that five men with far-right links have been convicted on terror charges between 2007 and 2010 in investigations led by its officers.
One, Martyn Gilleard, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2008 after police found explosive devices and ammunition at his home in Goole, together with a manifesto declaring that the time had come to “blow up mosques.”
Also that year, Nathan Worrell of Grimsby was sentenced to six years in prison after police found bomb making manuals and chemicals at his home.
In June 2010, Trevor Hannington and Michael Heaton were jailed for possession of terrorist material. Both had been active on the Aryan Strike Force website set up by neo-Nazi activist Ian Davison, himself jailed for ten years for manufacturing the poison ricin, which he kept in a jar in his kitchen.
The force spokeswoman said the regional CTU’s activities are intelligence led and did not target any particular group. But she added that the North East CTU had prosecuted more cases of right-wing terrorism than in parts of the UK covered by other counter-terrorism units.
The Greater Manchester Police Counter Terrorism Unit declined to release data on the grounds that it might compromise ongoing investigations.
In 2007, former BNP candidate Robert Cottage was convicted of possessing bomb making material at his home in Colne, Lancashire, though police denied that the case was connected to terrorism.
The prime minister David Cameron has called for the security services to look again at the threat from right-wing extremism after the Oslo atrocities committed by Anders Breivik.
Breivik, a right-wing anti-Muslim activist, killed 76 people and targeted members of Norway’s ruling Labour party, who he believed were traitors fostering the Islamisation of Norwegian society.
Breivik also claims to have extensive links with the English Defence League and to be involved in setting up a Norwegian chapter of the organisation.
According to the anti-fascist group Searchlight he communicated with EDL members online under the pseudonym Sigurd Jorsalfare, taken from a 12th century Norwegian crusader.
The EDL is not currently assessed as a terrorist threat under the government’s Prevent anti-terrorism strategy.