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'Racist, homophobic' National Action group to be banned under Terrorism Act

A neo-Nazi movement is to become the first extreme right-wing group banned as a terrorist organisation, the Government has announced.

An order laid in Parliament on Monday to proscribe National Action under the Terrorism Act 2000 is due to come into effect on Friday morning.

It will be the first time a group engaged in extreme right-wing activities will be banned under the laws.

The move will mean that being a member of the organisation becomes a criminal offence.

Announcing the step, Home Secretary Amber Rudd described National Action as a "racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation".

She said: "I am clear that the safety and security of our families, communities and country comes first. So today I am taking action to proscribe the neo-Nazi group National Action.

"This will mean that being a member of, or inviting support for, this organisation will be a criminal offence.

"National Action is a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology, and I will not stand for it. It has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone."

National Action is being proscribed as it has been assessed to be "concerned in terrorism".

The Home Secretary decided to ban the organisation before the trial of Thomas Mair, who was convicted of and jailed for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

The phrase "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain" - which was said by Mair in court - appears in National Action's website listing in online search results.

On its site, the group presents itself as a "scene for young nationalists to network, engage socially, and be creative".

It says: "We carry out demonstrations, publicity stunts, and other activities in order to grow and spread our message, that of National Socialism."

The organisation also boasts of cultivating a "tough image" to dissuade opponents from physical confrontation, while contesting their label as violent extremists.

In the wake of Mair's conviction, police warned that there are signs that the terror threat from the extreme right could be growing.

Around a quarter of the cases being handled by the Government's counter-extremism programme Channel are for right-wing radicalisation.

Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: "This decision by the Home Secretary is something we have long called for and sends a strong message that the far-right is in the Government's sights and will not be permitted to continue its incitement and violence."

Matthew Collins, of campaign group Hope Not Hate, said: "We cautiously welcome this ban, but we feel the authorities could have dealt with National Action sooner and quicker under existing laws.

"Hope Not Hate has long warned about the danger posed by far-right extremists such as this group, seeking to sow discord and enticing others to violent action."

Proscription makes it a criminal offence to: belong to or invite support for the proscribed organisation; arrange a meeting in support of the proscribed organisation; or wear clothing or carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organisation.

Penalties can range from a fine to ten years in prison.

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