A member of Patriotic Alternative who attended the far right group’s protest in Erskine was filmed at a riot outside a hotel accommodating asylum seekers in Merseyside.
James Costello, (aka James Mac), from Kirkby, Merseyside, is also known as the “Reverend” in a white supremacist cult called the Creativity Movement. It has called for a racial Holy War and claims that Judaism must be destroyed.
The protest in Knowsley, Merseyside, attended by Costello on 10 February, descended into violence and a police riot van was smashed up and torched. Fifteen people, including a 13-year-old boy, were arrested after clashes outside the Suites Hotel.
Earlier this month, The Ferret revealed Costello attended a protest in Erskine organised by Patriotic Alternative Scotland, when the far right group was accused of “bussing in extremists” and trying to stir up racial hatred over asylum seekers being housed in a local hotel.
Anti-racism groups and politicians have expressed concern over far right groups targeting asylum seekers in hotels across the UK recently.
The Scottish Greens claimed the “rise of far right extremism in the UK is one of the “greatest security threats and challenges” facing the country, adding it “must be taken seriously” by the UK Government.
According to Hope not hate, Costello associated with the banned neo-Nazi group, National Action and attended its demonstrations. He was filmed training with National Action at a secret training camp, months after the group was proscribed under anti-terror legislation.
In the run-up to the Knowsley protest, Costello was part of a PA group in the area, delivering hundreds of PA leaflets which falsley branded asylum seekers as “economic migrants” and claimed they were “being given the red carpet treatment with no expense spared”.
When violence erupted in Knowsley on the evening of 10 February, Costello filmed himself at the scene and accused the police of deliberately stoking tensions.
In the video, Costello said: “The police have decided to put a riot van in the middle of the crowd and abandoned it, knowing emotions are high and people might be inclined to damage the van.
“As it happens, somebody has set the van on fire, the police knew exactly what they were doing to give the people of Kirkby a bad name.”
Patriotic Alternative denied being involved in the disorder in Knowsley.
Following the disorder, an open letter signed by 180 charities blamed “inflammatory language” used by home secretary Suella Braverman for sparking the violence.
The letter said her description of small boat crossings as an “invasion” in November had “demonised” asylum seekers and warned of more attacks by far right extremists who have been targeting hotels in the UK housing asylum seekers.
The letter had more than 100 signatories and was coordinated by the Together with Refugees campaign.
Addressing the House of Commons after the violence, Labour MP Sir George Howarth called for the UK Government to ban far right groups such as PA and Britain First. He said: “This isn’t typical of the people of Knowsley or Kirby who are not bigoted, racist or unwelcoming.
“I do have concerns about the involvement of far right groups from outside of Knowsley such as Patriotic Alternative, Yorkshire Rose and Britain First in promoting that event and seeking to stir up racial hatred in our country.”
Maggie Chapman MSP, of the Scottish Greens, claimed that Patriotic Alternative protests have “brought many of the worst and most despicable people” together. She added: “Scotland has a long and proud record of keeping such groups out of our communities, but the protests we have seen have caused a great deal of distress and whipped up hatred and prejudice.
“There can be no place for this kind of extremism and violence in a progressive Scotland. There must be action from the Home Office and others to stamp out these hateful gatherings.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism claimed Patriotic Alternative’s propaganda is designed to “stir hatred towards minority groups, including Jewish people” and has no place in British society. “PA’s apparent failure to distance itself from Mr Costello makes it even harder for the inflammatory group to hide its true colours,” they added.
Patriotic Alternative told The Ferret: “James Costello is local to the area and merely reported on what he saw, however Patriotic Alternative did not take part in said demonstration.”
In Scotland, anti-racism groups accused PA Scotland of trying to stoke tensions in Erskine after some locals complained they had not been consulted over a plan to move asylum seekers into a hotel.
Three protests have taken place so far outside a local hotel, and The Ferret understands that more are planned.
Last weekend Stand Up to Racism hosted a counter-demonstration in response to PA. A spokesman for the the anti-racism organisation, who lives in Erskine, accused PA of spreading “hate, misinformation and lies” in the local community.
He said: “You only have to look at their website to see that’s the case. The truth of the matter is, Erskine, and I speak for Erskine, we say yes. Yes to refugees, no to the Patriotic Alternative. They can go away, they are not welcome in Erskine. Refugees, we welcome them.”
PA is led by Mark Collett, a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier who once led the youth group of the British National Party.