In recent weeks splits within Patriotic Alternative, the most extreme and active far right organisation in the UK, have widened. Fascists who until a few months ago were supposedly comrades in campaigns of race-baiting, are now bitter personal enemies.
One significant development is that PA’s leadership have become even more explicit in identifying themselves with the most extreme forms of European neo-nazism.
On September 9th the group’s founder Mark Collett and his deputy Laura Tyrie (alias Laura Towler) spoke at the annual meeting organised by Britain’s largest far-right publication, Heritage and Destiny.
Traditionally dedicated to the memory of deceased BNP führer John Tyndall, this year’s event focused on four individuals from the pantheon of British fascists (whether boneheads or self-styled intellectuals such as H&D’s editors).
The four men being ‘honoured’ were:
- Derek Beackon, elected in 1993 in East London as the BNP’s first ever councillor. Beackon was also the BNP’s chief steward, and worked closely with thugs who went on to create Combat 18, the notorious racist terror group. Beackon himself is a dedicated nazi, who came to the BNP via the openly Hitlerite British Movement, and regularly distributed Holocaust denial publications. He now lives in Kent and is said to be in poor health.
- Andrew Brons, whose racist odyssey began in the National Socialist Movement alongside Colin Jordan and synagogue arsonist Françoise Dior, and who himself wrote to Dior making curious comments about “well-intentioned” arson campaigns. Brons went on to become chairman of the National Front, before signing up to Griffin’s BNP in time to join him in Brussels as a Member of the European Parliament. Within a year, Brons had split from Griffin again, and eventually formed odd alliances with both supposed ‘moderates’ and open nazis to create the British Democrats, of which he is now President.
- Sir Oswald Mosley, who founded the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists and was interned during the Second World War. Unsurprisingly, it was feared that in the event of a nazi invasion, Mosley would become the British Quisling or Pétain. His second marriage took place at the home of the Third Reich’s propaganda minister Josef Goebbels, with Adolf Hitler as a witness. Postwar Mosley tried to exploit racism on the streets of London, and his followers incited anti-black riots on the streets of Notting Hill, just as they had attacked Jews on East End streets in earlier years. Retiring to Paris after being comprehensively defeated by anti-fascists, Mosley died unrepentant in 1980.
- Ian Stuart Donaldson, founder of the violent racist organisation Blood & Honour and lead singer of Skrewdriver. Since his death in a car crash thirty years ago, Donaldson has become a hero to racist thugs worldwide, and his organisation is banned in several countries for its links to terrorism. Memorial events in his name are notorious magnets for violence, drug dealing, and murderous internal feuds between rival factions that broke out after Donaldson’s death.
Searchlight observers monitored events in Preston on the day, and were surprised to discover that the notorious Spanish nazi Isabel Peralta – banned from Germany because of her connections to dangerous extremists – had been allowed into the UK to speak at the H&D event honouring Beackon, Brons, Mosley and Donaldson.
Peralta was at Preston railway station with H&D’s assistant editor Peter Rushton, greeting an ugly assortment of vile nazis including:
- Steve Cartwright, a notoriously violent nazi from Glasgow who has for decades been a leading organiser in Blood & Honour and various offshoots. Cartwright was involved in some of the bloodiest feuds inside Combat 18 and the BNP.
- Alan Payne, former organiser of Manchester & Salford BNP, who was recorded more than 30 years ago by Searchlight investigators when he was discussing plans to kidnap Sri Lankan asylum speaker Viraj Mendis from his sanctuary in a Manchester church.
- James Costello, a prominent PA activist in Merseyside who for years has described himself as “Reverend James” in relation to his work for the Creativity Movement, formerly the Church of the Creator. The leader of Costello’s “church” is Matthew Hale, currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for attempting to organise the murder of a US federal judge.
- Colin Todd, editor of Candour (founded by the original NF chairman and anti-semitic fanatic A.K. Chesterton). Todd has spent almost his entire life on the most extreme fringes of the British far right. He recently served a prison sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
- Michael Woodbridge, a veteran of many extremist groups, who was involved in training sessions near his home in Wales for members of the banned nazi terrorist group National Action, and more recently with members of Patriotic Alternative.
Despite being questioned for four hours by border security, who were very well aware of her identity and of the reason for her visit, Peralta was allowed to proceed with her mission. Searchlight is aware of extensive networking being organised by Peralta and Rushton among leading nazis and Holocaust deniers, across Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia – even including fugitive extremists living in the Far East.
When Searchlight used X (formerly Twitter) to ask why Peralta had been allowed into the country it was seen by almost 2 million people and reposted by almost 4,000, many demanding answers from Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Our intervention did not go down well with the nazis, and soon afterwards Searchlight was subject to a hysterical, vitriolic attack on the Heritage and Destiny website.
One strange and disturbing fact is that the H&D meeting seems to have united pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian elements of the European and American far right.
Isabel Peralta and Peter Rushton on the platform
Peralta and Rushton have strongly distanced themselves from pro-Russians among their nazi circles, and it was notable that at least two young Germans attended from the ultra-hardline sect Dritte Weg, which is close to the Peralta-Rushton axis of anti-Kremlin opinion.
Speaking alongside them was Stephen Frost, leader of the remnants of Colin Jordan’s British Movement, and Benny Bullman, lead singer of the “white power” band Whitelaw, who has faced travel bans due to international police and border security concerns about Blood & Honour. Frost, Bullman, Peralta and Rushton were the three most openly nazi speakers at the Preston conference, and to varying degrees are all anti-Moscow.
Kenneth Schmidt addresses the meeting
However other guest speakers at the event have publicly identified themselves with Putin. These include Mark Collett of PA, who has made several pro-Russian broadcasts with the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and H&D’s American columnist Kenneth Schmidt, a former leader of the US branch of Roberto Fiore’s International Third Position. Schmidt is less blatantly pro-Kremlin than Collett, but he has endorsed several conspiracy theories beloved by the Trump movement and their pro-Putin fifth column.
This peculiar aspect of the meeting was its only demonstration of factional unity. A few days earlier Alek Yerbury – the ludicrous ex-squaddie who leads the National Support Detachment – and his very strange partner Katie Fanning (a former UKIP activist) asked to attend, and were told that they could do so.
Collett, Towler and her husband Sam Melia responded with furious complaints to H&D editor Mark Cotterill, warning that the presence of Yerbury and Fanning would certainly lead to trouble, and probably to violence. Then, on Saturday morning, only hours before the event was due to start, Cotterill told Yerbury and Fanning that their invitation was withdrawn, and they would not be welcome in Preston.
For all his military posturing, Yerbury wisely decided he didn’t wish to confront H&D’s security team, largely drawn from members of the British Movement Leader Guard and including convicted killer Tony McDonnell. But he and his faction ignited a further online storm of abuse against PA’s leadership (now extended to attacks on Cotterill and Rushton).
Searchlight understands that members of some other groups hostile to PA, including the Homeland Party, New British Union, British Voice, and Highland Division, were welcomed by H&D to the Preston event, on the understanding that their disagreements with Collett would not become disruptive.
Yerbury and Fanning by contrast were banned. They are now expected to pursue an even closer alliance with ex-BNP activists in the so-called Independent Nationalist Network, and with the ever-hovering Nick Griffin and Jim Dowson, who are keen to find allies anywhere they can, whatever their level of credibility.