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Former Blackpool BNP candidate plotted to murder Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper

Preston Crown Court heard Jack Renshaw bought a machete to kill MP Rosie Cooper (pictured) with.
Preston Crown Court heard Jack Renshaw bought a machete to kill MP Rosie Cooper (pictured) with.

An alleged National Action member - who failed in a bid to become a Blackpool councillor - has admitted plotting to murder an MP.

Jack Renshaw, 23, of Skelmersdale, bought a Gladius Machete to kill Rosie Cooper last summer.

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, was the target of Jack Renshaw's murder plot

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, was the target of Jack Renshaw's murder plot

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On the opening day of his trial, Renshaw pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism as well as making a threat to kill police officer Victoria Henderson.

Renshaw previously stood as a candidate for the British National Party at a Blackpool Council by-election in 2014.

At the court hearing, Judge Mr Justice Jay directed the jury to deliver a formal guilty verdict on the first two charges Renshaw faces.

He is on trial alongside Christopher Lythgoe, 32, from Warrington, who denies giving Renshaw permission to murder West Lancashire MP Ms Cooper on behalf of National Action on July 1 last year.

The pair, along with Garron Helm, 24, of Seaforth, Merseyside, Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, Andrew Clarke, 33, and Michal Trubini, 35, both of Warrington, also deny membership of the banned far-right group.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: "This case concerns these defendants and their support for, involvement in and membership of the proscribed racist neo-Nazi group National Action."

He said Renshaw planned to carry out a "politically and racially motivated murder" in support of National Action.

They were done "with the blessing" of his leader, Lythgoe, jurors heard.

He told jurors the group had engaged in a "campaign of virulent anti-Semitic and homophobic propaganda" since 2013.

It tried to recruit and radicalise young people through violent images and "hate-filled language", he said.

Its support for the murder of MP Jo Cox in June 2016 led to it being banned, Mr Atkinson said.

But he said the defendants remained active members of the organisation after it was proscribed.

Mr Atkinson said evidence would come from a "disenchanted" former member of National Action who passed information to Hope Not Hate.

The court heard that the defendants were part of the North West area branch of National Action which met at the Friar Penketh pub in Warrington.

Lythgoe resolved to continue National Action after the ban, saying in an e-mail last December: "Long term we'll keep moving forward just as we have been.

"We are just shedding one skin for another."

Mr Atkinson said Renshaw's threat of violence was personal as well as political.

It began with his arrest in January last year on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred in two anti-Semitic speeches in Blackpool and at the Yorkshire Forum for Nationalists.

He was interviewed by Det Con Victoria Henderson and another officer before being released on bail.

An analysis of his phone revealed what police considered evidence of child sex offences and he was interviewed again by Det Con Henderson, jurors heard.

On July 1 last year, Renshaw revealed his murderous plan to National Action members at a meeting in the Friar Penketh, the court heard.

He allegedly told members he had already bought a machete marketed as offering "19 inches of unprecedented piercing and slashing power at a bargain price".

The jury was told that Renshaw had also researched "cutting the jugular artery" on the internet last May.

Mr Atkinson said: "Renshaw's plan had a more sophisticated dimension in that its objective was not simply to make a political point - as he put it to kill for National Action and White Jihad - but to revenge himself on those he considered to be persecuting him and trying to send him to prison for a significant period.

"Renshaw explained that, after killing Rosie Cooper MP, he would take some people hostage and would then demand of the police when they attended that Det Con Henderson come to the scene.

"His plan then would be to kill that officer who was, he said, his real target."

Lythgoe's alleged response to the plan was to tell Renshaw: "Don't **** it up."