Neo-Nazi radicalised by far-right exploitation of missing teenage girl

White supremacist Jack Renshaw's interest in far-right politics was ignited when extremist groups sought to exploit the case of missing 14-year-old girl Charlene Downes.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 1:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 3:04 pm
Jack Renshaw
Jack Renshaw

In 2007, a murder trial jury at Preston Crown Court was told of claims that Charlene's body was chopped up and had "gone into kebabs" after she disappeared in Renshaw's home town Blackpool in November 2003.

Related: Neo-Nazi who plotted to kill local MP will not be tried again for membership of banned groupCharlene was said to be among a number of young white girls who gravitated to the resort's takeaways to have sex with older men.

A takeway boss charged with murder and an associate who was accused of helping dispose of her body were formally acquitted after the jury failed to reach verdicts.

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But both the British National Party and the English Defence League continued to exploit the case.

Former leader and then North West MEP Nick Griffin met Renshaw, a 23-year-old from Skelmersdale who has admitted plotting to kill West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper, and invited him to take up a two-week work experience placement in Brussels, according to Renshaw.

He went on to run the youth wing of the BNP while he studied economics and politics at Manchester Metropolitan University and stood as a candidate for the party in a Blackpool council ward by-election in October 2014. He received 17 votes.

As time went on Renshaw said his "political evolution" led to him becoming an "outright nationalist socialist" who thought Griffin was mistakenly trying to portray himself as moderate.

Details of Renshaw's background emerged during two trials last year at Preston Crown Court where he was convicted of stirring up racial hatred and inciting two underage boys to engage in sexual activity.

During the latter trial he denied a sexual interest in children and said he had campaigned against child grooming since he was aged 14 and got involved in the 'Justice for Charlene Downes' cause.

Renshaw was born in Ormskirk and raised in Skelmersdale - which he described as "a very white town" - but moved to Blackpool with his mother when she split from his father.

From 2015 to early 2017 he expressed his nationalist views on Facebook, Twitter and certain encrypted messaging apps.

Renshaw told jurors: "When we were contacting each other, nationalists, we like to keep our messages covert so we would use e-mail services such as Tutanota and Telegram.

"We would use these so it would be harder for our opponents to find out about our plans and activities."

Claiming he was a "principled nationalist" who was currently not a member of any political organisation, he said: "I hold the same views but I don't see any vehicle out there which works to express them."