LVF linked to neo-nazis
BY DEIRDRE FEEHAN
Information detailing links between the LVF and British neo-nazis were found in the house of a former RIR soldier charged two weeks ago with possession of weapons and explosives.
The names, addresses and telephone numbers of members of the neo-nazi group Combat 18, along with details of its links to the LVF, were found during a search of the Armagh home of Ian Thompson, who was questioned about the 1999 murder of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson.
Along with the personal details of Combat 18 members, including their leader Bill Browning, a former British soldier from south London, scores of race-hate CDs were found. The CDs of racist skinhead bands were being sold to raise money in Britain for the LVF. Browning has a conviction for assaulting a gay man and another for distributing race hate material.
Thompson was the LVF's main link with Combat 18. He went to Wigan in 1998 for an event organised by Combat 18 which almost degenerated into war between rival factions of the fascist group. Members from North-East England protested at Thompson's plan to bring along an LVF-aligned flute band to play at the function.
The North-East branch of Combat 18, organised principally around a core of Sunderland soccer hooligans, are supporters of the Ulster Defence Association. When they learnt that an LVF-allied band was to play, they threatened to disrupt the event.
The investigation into Combat 18's connections to the LVF will focus on a nucleus of English fascists based in North-West England, particularly a group in Bolton. They include a tattooist who regularly visits the Six Counties to engrave the image of the dead LVF leader Billy Wright onto local loyalists.
Thompson invited Browning, along with 24 other neo-nazis, to the LVF's stronghold of Portadown last summer during the marching season where Browning met with the LVF leader in the area. While staying in Portadown, members of the group attacked a Chinese family living in the staunchly loyalist Corcrain estate.
Combat 18 have in the past been linked to the UDA. The UDA's gunrunning operations in Britain were severely compromised due to their connections with the neo-nazi group, which was then led by Charlie Sergeant who was working as an informer for the Metropolitan police.
Last year, it was revealed that Sergeant had been allowed to carry out racist attacks in London while working as an informant for the Metropolitan Police. Sergeant was recruited to spy on UDA members in London involved in smuggling arms to the Six Counties. Sergeant has since been jailed for life.
One of the UDA's English members, who was arrested on arms charges in the early `90s, was Frank Portanari. Now out of jail, Portanari heads a pro-loyalist campaign group in London called the British/Ulster Alliance.