The following piece is taken from NFB issue 8 2007 (p.3-4), and updates the previous article in Notes From the Borderland issue 7 2006 (p.24-33) which first covered the plot.
Inasmuch as this murder plot deserved UK-wide headlines, and a few doors kicked in by armed police, but neither happened, there is little substantial to report. Mention should, however, be made of two items. First, let nobody say essay-writing is dead. The article in question, on fascist forum 'North West Nationalists' (dated 5/4/2010) http://northwestnationalists.blogspot.com/2010/04/strange-case-of-tony-lecomber-state.html is largely a very passable summary of the facts laid out in NFB 7, alas with no acknowledgement as to source. This clever omission is rather astute. Some readers might conclude the (supposed) author 'Nemesis' is a sound chap (apart from fascist proclivities), just the sort to confide in regarding spook malfeasance. That, however, would be a mistake. It is our understanding he is mercurial love-god Clive Potter, briefly mentioned in NFB 9 (p.51). This East Midlands character is a former BNP member and ex-President of the BNP-linked Solidarity union. His bizarre political trajectory is reminiscent of Tim Hepple (without the violence, but with a shared interest in Ufology). 'Nemesis Potter' sounds like a distant relative of JK Rowling's character, although judging by his antics in Solidarity possesses an inferior grasp of plot construction...
After briefly covering the (March 2010) talk by ex-BNP Publicity Director Mark Collett threatening violence against Nick Griffin, Jim Dowson et al, 'Nemesis' Potter makes an intriguing, but potentially misleading, point regarding Lecomber. The former entered into correspondence with the (London) Metropolitan Police concerning the 'Lecomber Plot' and a reply dated 3/3/10 is discussed. The Met cite various legal exemptions to avoid answering whether Lecomber is, or not, a state asset. Nemesis states one "exemption would seem to indicate that information related to Lecomber's terrorist conspiracy had been derived from a security body (Special Branch or MI5?) or that the Met had information on Lecomber that involved his capture and subsequent assignment as an asset". The key word in all this is 'or'--even if he is an asset, which is probable, this letter does not prove it. Nemesis Potter excludes other possibilities--such as Owens (or Lecomber) being bugged, or even that a 'security service' involvement could (also) have originated from journalist Neil McKay (for example), or even one of his regular sources--Steven Cartwright to pluck a name from the ether. Speaking of Scotland, they have a well-phrased legal verdict--'not proven'--and on the basis of evidence thus far that is our position--Lecomber is probably an asset, but definitely not proven.
A 'not proven' verdict hardly applies to the Searchlight organisation, as chronicled elsewhere. The wealth of evidence regarding 'team' orientation and allegiances is such that anyone active in anti-fascist politics in the last decade or so cannot reasonably feign amnesia, especially if they hail, as do Lancaster Unity, from the anarchist/animal liberation tradition. Ketlan Ossowski, in email correspondence, has freely admitted he is aware of the role of provocateurs Ray Hill & Tim Hepple in his town of residence, Lancaster. Should he deny, we'll publish...
In the text below the web-site Lancaster UAF (now Lancaster Unity) are given unqualified praise. Deservedly so--they picked up the story and tried to interest MPs/media outlets. For a time they even had a very prominent link to the NFB web-site as being "of interest" to their site visitors. Something that, from the disinformation peddler perspective, could not be allowed to continue. Lancaster Unity coverage of the Lecomber plot (which cites NFB 7 but significantly not the article below) is now suffocated/displaced by propaganda for Searchlight & their other satellite sites. Sad, even if lucrative. There is, of course, no longer any NFB link--you judge whether this site might interest their readers any less than hitherto. One Searchlight satellite is run by the breathlessly naive Denise Garside, who faithfully reproduces every scintilla of bullshit pouring out of the Searchlight effluent pipe. This piece on Lecomber dated 27/9/10--http://norfolk.unitywebring.com/?p=1936 is a classic. The knowing mock-sarcastic tone is undermined when after outlining various allegations Garside merely opines "they do love a good conspiracy theory in the BNP". State infiltration into the BNP is more than 'theory'--and Nick Griffin's frequent visits to the High Court are hardly social....Garside prefaces her article by stating of the allegations "we don't know the truth of that or of much else surrounding Lecomber". Yet she brings little to the table, merely reproducing alleged hints by Lecomber that Nick Griffin may have pocketed BNP bequests--eminently possible but hardly news. Quoted as a financial expert on BNP finances is Steve Brady's old girlfriend Sonia Gable (who still has questions to answer in the little 1970s matter of Northern Irish Republicans shot dead by Loyalist fascist sympathisers first raised in 'Searchlight For Beginners' ). While unbelievably claiming to be no battleground for BNP factions or their rumours, with reference to Lecomber's recent role 'advising' BNP members involved in internal conflicts, Garside concludes with the fatuous question providing the article title "Perhaps we should ask the old lag directly--what is occurring, Tony?". If, as outlined below, Lecomber won't talk to NFB, why answer a rhetorical question from a muppet?
Similar to other stories NFB covers, as one key figure behind taking the BNP away from street violence towards a mostly electoral strategy, yet with a long-term ongoing association with serious violence himself (including explosives offences) the story of Tony Lecomber is worth a detailed televisual (or other mainstream media) investigation not tainted by Searchlight input. Although, again, we'll not hold our breath....As it happens, Lecomber's intended fall-guy, Joe Owens, has written a fascinating book 'Race War to Door Wars' reviewed in NFB issue 8 (p.41-43). Properly considered, it has much information highly damaging to the current BNP leadership that anti-fascists should find useful. However, as Owens is not 'on side' the book has been ignored. In contrast to irrelevant gossip retailed by provocateurs like Andy Sykes (involved with the 'Secret Agent' documentary on the BNP analysed in NFB issues 6 (p,11-39) & 7 (p.34-35). It's a strange strange (media) world as the Disney song almost goes. Enjoy! 4/10/10
To read the original plot story in full, visit the on-line shop above to acquire NFB issue 7.
Last time out (NFB 7 p.24-33), we provided chapter and verse on the January 2006 attempt by Tony Lecomber, British National Party No. 2, to inveigle ex-BNP member and Liverpool underworld figure Joe Owens in a plot to assassinate leading establishment figures. Since then, there have been startling (even a touch surreal) developments, and also the emergence of background information providing context to the plot. After discussing that, reactions to the story from various quarters are analysed. Finally, where does the story go next?
NOT THE FIRST TIME...
One strange aspect throughout has been BNP Chairman Nick Griffin making endless excuses for Lecomber. A 2003 circular put out by disaffected BNP members makes fascinating reading. During a London factional dispute, Lecomber was accused of sending out poisonous hate mail in his own handwriting. When Dave Hill (East London BNP) put this e to Griffin, the reported response was "No, its not been written by Tony Lecomber after all, its been written by MI5 to cause friction between you and Tony" . Unbelievable, but consistent with later events--Griffin's apologetics, Lecomber's factionalising, the COINTELPRO-type use of hate mail, and even the question of MI5 intervention. That Joe Owens, who Lecomber tried to set up, is not averse to political violence is confirmed by his book (reviewed p.41 -43 this NFB), and this comment on his former web-site--"it is time for the Government to act against anti-democratic organisations which interfere In the electoral process...This seems unlikely to happen given Searchlights links with both the media and agencies of the state. The author would be interested in any rather more radical (final) solutions to the Searchlight question readers may care to suggest" , Owens probably wasn't thinking of a non-aggression pact.
On 28/9/06, BNP member Robert Cottage had his home raided and was later charged (in the company of BNP sympathiser David Jackson) with stock-piling explosives. It came out at a subsequent trial that Cottage harboured fantasies (or at least talked about) political violence-one diary entry read "the easiest way to save the country is to assassinate Tony Blair and when Prescott takes over shoot that fucker as well" .
The BNP deny he was a member —but given he stood in the May 2006 council elections (Vivary Bridge ward/Pendle Borough Council) and their membership year runs from January to December, unless he formally resigned (not even claimed) Cottage was in the BNP when arrested. Even though Lecomber signed Cottage's nomination papers when he earlier stood for the BNP in May 2004 (Vivary Bridge Ward/Pendle Borough Council) and May 2005 (Pendle West/Lancashire County Council) , he did this for all candidates, pre-signing blank forms in most cases . However suggestive, there is no evidence of a direct connection between Lecomber and the two~if readers know otherwise, do tell. Cottage/Jackson's retrial is taking place as we go to press (July), the jury couldn't reach a verdict in the first.
Just after we went to press, the only media coverage to date of this story came out-a lavish two page spread by Neil McKay in the (Glasgow) Sunday Herald (28/5/06). In some ways commendable: he adequately outlined Owens' allegations, securing responses from Griffin and Lecomber. Griffin admitted Lecomber had been told "he had to resign or be sacked", and had indeed suggested the country's leaders "deserve to be shot"--as a joke.
Lecomber, too, did not deny he had said of the government "these people should be taken out and shot", although "as a figure of speech, not an invitation". McKay reported Owens' rebuttal-that he had not spoken to Lecomber for months, the latter travelling from London to Liverpool for the meeting. "Would he come all that way just to chat to me in a jovial way about shooting people?". Hardly. It might seem churlish to criticise McKay, but needs must. Despite having his own Metropolitan Police sources , and normally quoting police extensively in stories, McKay's article has no quote from police (or MPs)-only fascists: Griffin Lecomber and Owens. Hardly balanced, nor likely to elicit follow up, especially as all protagonists are English, and the Herald is a (quintessentially) Scottish paper.
This story was probably a safety-valve, designed to go no further. A contention fuelled by two facts.First. McKay initially asked Owens to sign an affidavit, which would have upgraded his allegations from rumour to something difficult to ignore-and at the 11th hour decided not to proceed down this route. No reason given.Second, when journalists who read NFB contacted the national NUJ they were fed Searchlight's view Lecomber was a 'non-story'. After McKay's piece the new line was 'this has been done already, in the Sunday Herald. If McKay's motives are ambiguous, Lancaster UAF deserve unqualified praise. For over a year, they have been on the case, even devoting a special section to the 'Lecomber Saga' (with links to NFB). I recommend readers look at that, last updated April 2007 , Lancaster UAF sent their article "to several hundred MPs, journalists, relevant police authorities and other interested parties" . No action at all has resulted. A stark (and frightening) contrast between this and the way marionette MPs/journalists foam at the mouth over Redwatch alone.
NFB 7 didn't please him: an email to me dated 5/9/06, said in full:
"Seen your mag. Ten pages of mostly speculation. Good grief! Some of your 'facts' are not so. As a result you make false assumptions, like Tyndall, you have a conspiratorial nature which colours your judgement. You have missed things staring you in the face and disappointingly you fail, on occasion, to make the imaginative leap. You need to challenge your own dodgy assumptions and also instill a bit more rigour in your analysis. I will only say one thing more: at least you endeavour to be accurate unlike some. As it is, you can only do the best you can. As before, I am content to keep my own counsel and let others wonder. R&N A Lecomber"
A riposte virtually devoid of content, or refutation. Had former BNP Chairman John Tyndall been more 'conspiratorial' he would have kept Lecomber at arms length. Not doing so was disastrous (for Tyndall at least) .
Being deprived of his BNP stipend might have made Lecomber seek alternative employment. Training as a CORGI registered gas fitter (for example) would require references from people of 'good standing', such as councillors in East London (even if BNP ones!). A problem is his distinctive name, Lecomber--as a Google search illustrates. Whether Lecomber considered another name-change (Wells/East are past monikers), I cannot say. Any councillor providing a reference would lay themselves open to a bad press--and if (hypothetically) somebody applied in a false name, disbarment and prosecution too. Was that the plan perhaps?
Eddie Butler, BNP Election Strategist, was not best pleased with Lecomber's continuing influence in the BNP, precipitating a bizarre event in early March 2007. Butler was attacked outside Loughton station by a man wearing a white balaclava. A tussle revealed the assailant as Tony Lecomber, his face blacked up for the occasion! An incensed Butler pressed Griffin to formally exclude Lecomber from BNP activities. He did, sort of:
"Tony Lecomber, while a long-term devoted and very valuable key official in the BNP and a genuine nationalist is no longer an official or member of the party. Internal party business should not therefore be discussed with him and he should not be invited to attend party activities. Please note this is NOT a prescription aimed at personal contact and friendship. Tony is a victim of his own past and the BNP's past follies. We recognise his sterling work for the Cause in the past, and his selflessness in stepping away in order to avoid compromising the future (Nick Griffin)" .
A reaction so weak it makes you wonder what hold Lecomber has on Griffin.
The Joe Owens book recounts his take on Lecomber, including very recent events. He suggests the hold is "some kind of financial skulduggery. A disclosure of such a nature could mean-depending on the scale of the depredations--a) possibly jail for Griffin b) Being disbarred from MEP candidature" . For example the Trafalgar Club income does not feature in BNP Accounts. Why not? Owens may be on to something here.
Mention must be made of Lecomber's circular dated 18/3/07 catchily titled 'Bob Gertner-Enemy Agent-Caught Red Handed'. Apparently, "it is not so much ironic, as calculating, that O'Hara spent ten pages of his tatty newsletter to pose the question: Is Lecomber an enemy agent?". Allegedly, a photo taken by Gertner (Croydon BNP) appeared first in NFB 7 (p.28).
When questioned, Lecomber argues that Gertner set about manufacturing a false history for the photo, pretending it had first been on the internet. He infers Gertner gave me the photo, and sought to cover up that fact. Lecomber concludes by asking "How come O'Hara used a Searchlight pic before Searchlighf?"--insinuating I am league with them. I cannot speak for Gertner, and don't know if he acted as Lecomber suggests. I will say that perusing NFB 3 p.30/31 & NFB 5 p.54-55, while taking an 'imaginative leap' provides an answer to the photo question not involving collaboration with either fascists or Searchlight.
SEARCHLIGHT COVER UP
Despite helping prevent the Lecomber story reaching any English mainstream media by putting the word around, Searchlight do not deny what he did--the January 2007 issue commented that Lecomber "tried to enlist Griffin's former bodyguard Joey Owens in a hair-brained scheme to assassinate Cabinet ministers" (p.15). Though still no call for his arrest. April's Searchlight accused Eddie Butler of lying about crime in Loughton--without mentioning Lecomber's assault on him (p.11). Very droll.
Although the Lecomber plot, and his attacking Butler, would have made ideal anti-BNP propaganda before May's council elections (like the Michael NewIand assault in 1994 did), no mention in the May Searchlight of either. June saw an aside that Lecomber "physically attacked Butler" (p.17). No more. Anti-fascism is for Searchlight subordinate to other (covert) ends--something those working with them on the internet and elsewhere should ponder deeply.
What next for Lecomber, and 'this story? A tricky one-perhaps dependent on how near, as 2009 approaches, Griffin and the BNP are to gaining seats in the European Parliament...
1) 'Unrest in London' Dave Hill/Bob Jeffries July 2003 p.32) 'Turn Off Searchlight www.thenaziassassin.com/ (accessed 17/11/06).3) quoted in The Times 14/2/07 (Andrew Norfolk)--the trial was extensively covered in other media outlets that day too.4) 'Media attack BNP while Labour honours terrorists" (13/2/07) www.bnp.org.uk5) see post by Tony Greaves 13/2/07 on Vote 2007 Discussion Forum www.vote-2007.co.uk6) inside information7) see 'The Hate Machine' Sunday Herald 2/7/008) see www.zen26l44.zen.co.uk/articles/theLecomberstory.htm9) idem.10) NFB 5 p.58 analyses Tyndall's dealings with Lecomber.11) BNP Organisers Bulletin April 2007 p.312) Joe Owens 'Action! Race War to Door Wars' Lulu 2007 p.283