With his youthful looks and insolent smirk, it’s hard to believe that Alex Davies is the founding father of Britain’s most dangerous white supremacist movement. But the former PPI salesman is the self-styled ‘intellectual’ who helped to establish National Action, the movement that would become the first far-right terrorist group in the UK.
Davies used social media and messaging apps to create a ‘National Socialist youth movement’ to fight what many of its members believe to be a forthcoming race war. The group was declared a terrorist organisation by the then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd in 2016 after it celebrated the killing of Jo Cox, the Labour MP.
I travelled to Swansea to confront the 23-year-old and found him as he strutted home.
He wore shorts and a T-shirt on one of the hottest days of the year - a supermarket carrier bag draped over his shoulder.
He looked stunned when our ITV News team approached him, but his smile eventually returned as I questioned him about why he set up the outlawed group.
“It’s all a matter of public record” he said, before muttering what sounded like a South Asian name – whether he was genuinely confused or trying to make a joke, it’s hard to say.
Davies is not stupid. As a teenager he moved from south Wales to Warwick University to study philosophy. He came to see his campus as a launch-pad for his neo-Nazi movement, leading a campaign to have a foreign student deported.
After promoting fascism as a fresher, he dropped out of university and returned to south Wales to work in a call centre.
In 2013 he helped to found National Action, the Hitler-loving hate group which promoted racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia, and helped to recruit a few dozen members.
But ITV News can now reveal that Davies had already been identified as being at risk of radicalisation. He was referred to the government’s Prevent programme for extremists in 2011, aged sixteen - two years before he established National Action. He refused to engage with the programme for several years, but eventually agreed to a series of meetings with assigned mentors.
One assessment, written in 2014, described him as “the driving force behind the National Action group”. It concluded that “he simply considered black and Asian races inferior to white people”.
“A significant issue for him as is often the case with XRW (extreme right wing) rhetoric is racial mixing and preventing the dilution of the white blood line… Alex referred to women who were sexually active with black men very negatively” it said.
Perhaps more concerning than his own views was the fact that he was encouraging others to think the same. One assessment bluntly warned that Davies was “attempting to indoctrinate others… particularly disaffected young white men”.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said: “The government is determined to combat terrorism of all kinds. Our counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies, including Prevent, tackle the scourge of the far-right head on.
"Those who decide not to engage may be offered alternative forms of support, and if they pose any form of terrorist risk, that will, as always, be managed by the police.”
National Action didn’t give up after it was outlawed - it simply went underground. Last week, two members of the group were jailed for being members. Christopher Lythgoe, 32, from Warrington and Matthew Hankinson, 24, of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, were convicted at the Old Bailey. Another man, Jack Renshaw, 23, from Lancashire earlier admitted preparing an act of terrorism after buying a machete to murder Rosie Cooper, the Labour MP.
Followers of the organisation have splintered off into at least seven other organisations, according to evidence gathered by ITV News, including one white supremacist organisation masquerading as ‘a church’.
We first revealed last year that National Action members were using aliases, including ‘Scottish Dawn’, to overcome a ban. But the group is now being linked to a fast-growing organisation called System Resistance Network, which appears to have a growing following in south Wales. Its initials, SRN, were graffitied onto the walls of a school in Newport following an arson attack in May.