Miss Hitler pageant entrant convicted of neo-Nazi terrorist group membership

Alice Cutter 22, outside Birmingham Crown Court Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

A former Miss Hitler beauty pageant contestant has been convicted of membership of banned extreme right wing group National Action.

During a lengthy retrial, 23-year-old Alice Cutter claimed she had been pestered by others into entering the competition under the name Miss Buchenwald - a reference to the Second World War death camp.

She flatly denied being a part of the banned group - but jurors rejected her denials - and convicted Cutter alongside her ex-boyfriend, 25-year-old Mark Jones.

Cutter and Jones are thought to have bonded over a shared interest in the extreme-right. Credit: West Midlands Police

In December 2016 the National Action group was described by then home secretary Amber Rudd as "a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation".

Jurors in the retrial rejected Cutter's denial after hearing evidence including how the 23-year-old had exchanged hundreds of racist and anti-Semitic messages.

Cutter, a waitress, also had a picture of Holocaust victim Anne Frank on her phone with the caption: "What's that smell - oh it's my family burning."

Prosecutors said Cutter - who joked about gassing synagogues and using a Jew's head as a football - had been a "central spoke" among the organisation's hard-core, and entered the Miss Hitler pageant to drive recruitment.

Cutter claimed never to have considered herself a member of the group, even before the ban, despite attending meetings with group leaders and posing for a Nazi-style salute on the steps of Leeds Town Hall in 2016.

She also attended a demo for the group in York in May 2016 - which she initially denied until footage emerged showing her standing with other masked NA members, giving the Nazi salute behind a banner that read "Hitler Was Right".

In one exchange with another National Action member on the day after MP Jo Cox was murdered, referencing the politician, she said: "Rot in hell, b****."

Mark Jones, posing on a firing range with an AK47 assault rifle. Credit: PA

Cutter's ex-partner, Jones - a former member of the British National Party's youth wing - was also convicted of being a member, after being described by prosecutors as a "leader and strategist".

During his evidence, Jones told jurors of his "feelings of admiration" for Hitler, while the court heard he had a special wedding edition of Mein Kampf.

Jones, who posted messages on Telegram as "GrandaddyTerror", was National Action's London regional organiser and a key designer of the group's propaganda artwork.

He accepted to the court he had posed for a photograph, delivering a Nazi-style salute in Buchenwald's execution room while holding a National Action flag - but told jurors it had been a "controversial statement".

Jones also took a selfie inside the room holding the concentration camp's ovens, where the remains of thousands of murdered Jews were incinerated.

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Mark Jones wearing a Swastika-covered shawl. Credit: West Midlands Police

Jones and Cutter, both of Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, Yorkshire, described themselves in court as avowed national socialists, but denied any wrong-doing.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court found both unanimously guilty following a retrial after less than nine hours of deliberations.

Having split up in the course of the trial proceedings, they embraced in the dock before being taken down to the cells.

It emerged in the trial that Jones had cheated on Cutter with a potential female teenage recruit, weeks after the National Action ban came into force.

In her evidence, Cutter told jurors she had removed the engagement ring Jones had given her over the infidelity.

Jones and another man delivering a Nazi-style salute, holding a National Action flag, in the execution room at Buchenwald concentration camp. Credit: West Midlands Police/PA

Also convicted of the same offence were two other men - Garry Jack, 24, from Shard End, Birmingham, and 19-year-old Connor Scothern, of Bagnall Avenue, Nottingham.

Jack told jurors he was not a racist, despite sending a message saying "Handsworth - first area in Birmingham that needs ethnic cleansing".

He claimed the remark had been "tongue in cheek".

Connor Scothern arriving at Birmingham Crown Court. Credit: Matthew Cooper/PA

Scothern, who was a one-time practising Muslim, and an Antifa - anti-fascist activist - before eventually joining National Action, did not give evidence at trial.

But in messages he sent following the ban in August 2017, he talked of setting up "a clear and openly fascist youth movement".

He said: "Even if this land is lost, which I don’t think it is, I'd rather die than capitulate."

Addressing the four, Judge Paul Farrer QC, said: "You have all been convicted of a serious terrorist offence."

The four will be sentenced at a later date.