Scotland’s far right: A review of The Ferret’s reporting in 2023

We continued our far right investigations throughout 2023, an area The Ferret has covered extensively for some years now.

The rise of the far right in Britain over the past decade has been a worrying development for human rights groups. They fear impressionable young people are increasingly drawn towards extremist organisations.

One such group was Scottish Dawn, proscribed in 2017 by the UK Government following an undercover investigation by The Ferret which exposed its links to the banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action.

Scotland's far right: A review of The Ferret's reporting in 2023 5

Since then we’ve investigated a raft of new far right groups including Patriotic Alternative – a focus of our reporting in 2023.

This year we also investigated a new white nationalist group called Homeland, which was formed after a large faction split from Patriotic Alternative.

We also revealed that neo-Nazis were exploiting anti-asylum seeker protests in Erskine, with one man from England later sentenced to five years in prison for racist offences.

And there was more, so please scroll down.

The Ferret’s far right coverage in 2023: A timeline

Our coverage in 2023

  • 10 January

    We kicked off 2023 with an exclusive revealing that Patriotic Alternative (PA) Scotland was the subject of a counter-terrorism strategy involving the Scottish Government.

    Emails obtained under freedom of information law revealed the government suggested Police Scotland and Pursue – part of a counter-terrorism strategy which specifically aims “to stop terrorist attacks” – coordinate a future meeting regarding “Patriotic Alternative and online radicalisation”. PA Scotland claimed its “code of conduct expressly rejects anything that advocates for anything other than legal activism”.

    Read more
  • 31 January

    We broke the news that PA Scotland was trying to exploit concerns in Erskine over asylum seekers being housed in a local hotel by organising a protest and leafleting the Renfrewshire town.

    Critics accused PA Scotland of trying to stir up racial hatred by scaremongering and spreading misinformation, which the group denied.

    Read more
  • 5 February

    A week later we reported that the protest was attended by people from England with past links to National Action, a terror group banned by the UK Government in 2017.

    Another PA supporter who attended the event also had links to National Action. James Costello, from Merseyside, is known as the “Reverend” in the Creativity Movement – a white supremacist cult that calls for a racial Holy War and claims that Judaism must be destroyed.

    Read more
  • 25 April

    In April, it emerged that a new far right group called Homeland had been formed after white nationalists in Scotland split from Patriotic Alternative.

    Kenny Smith, a former British National Party (BNP) organiser who lived in Skye, led a breakaway faction to form the new group after bitter in-fighting at PA.

    The split was between PA’s leader Mark Collett and his followers on one side, and former BNP officials led by PA Scotland’s Smith on the other.

    Read more
  • 30 May

    A few weeks later in May, we revealed that Homeland had applied to the Electoral Commission to become a political party.

    Read more
  • 1 August

    Then, in August, we learned that the Home Office had contacted the Electoral Commission to raise concerns after learning of Homeland’s application.

    The application is yet to be approved.

    Read more
  • 15 October

    In October, we revealed that Homeland activists were members of Scottish community councils, prompting calls for an urgent investigation.

    Concerned politicians have written to the heads of their local authorities, urging them to investigate Homeland’s community councillors.

    However, Homeland defended its councillors as “upstanding members of their local communities”. “Left-wing extremists” and politicians who “abuse their power to oppress dissent” were attempting to smear its members with “perceived wrongdoing”, it argued.

    Read more
  • 29 October

    Two weeks later, we revealed that a member of a now defunct group branded neo-Nazi attended Homeland’s summer camp in June.

    Tayside-based James Munro of the former Scottish Nationalist Society, had also joined far right activists at a demonstration against asylum seekers in Erskine.

    Politicians responding to The Ferret’s findings branded Homeland “a disgrace”. But Homeland dismissed SNS – which was active throughout 2020 – as a “cranky little group” that disbanded prior to Homeland’s formation.

    Read more
  • 17 November

    In November, we reported that James Costello – the white supremacist who attended anti-asylum seeker protests in Erskine in February – had been jailed for five years for racist offences, including a “call to arms against black and Jewish people”.

    He was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of 18 offences of stirring up racial hatred.

    Read more
  • 7 December

    In December, Police Scotland data was released showing that the number of Scots referred to the UK Government’s counter-terrorism programme due to far right extremism had risen over the last year.

    Some 31 of the 87 Scotland residents referred to the anti-terror Prevent programme in the year ending 31 March 2023 held right wing extremist beliefs.

    Read more
Far right
A far right activist at a Scottish Defence League protest in Edinburgh. Image credit: Liam Turbett

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