Members of the White Stag Athletic Club give Nazi salutes. Geolocated to Glyder Fach, Snowdonia.

How Close to Neo-Nazi Terrorism is the New Fascist Homeland Party?

Last month the Homeland Party (Homeland) became the first British fascist party to register with the Electoral Commission in over a decade. Homeland split from Patriotic Alternative (PA) last year, which we reported on at the time. In an inaugural meeting held on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday, Homeland’s chairman Kenny Smith said: “Optics will be a big focus as we essentially have a clean slate.” The party’s treasurer Jerome O’Reilly agreed: “Homeland can have a squeaky clean media image from the start.”

Despite Homeland’s efforts to distance themselves from PA’s more overt neo-Nazi politics, and their rejection of labels such as “fascist” or “far right”, some of the fledgling party’s founding members have emerged from a fanatical neo-Nazi milieu within PA, with close ties to a group described by a judge as “criminal and terrorist” in its aspirations.

Homeland’s Simon Shepherd, “fascist fitness” and White Stag Athletic Club

Shepherd appearing on Homeland’s regular livestream, alongside Kenny Smith

Simon Shepherd - a former West Yorkshire local contact for PA, known by the online pseudonym “Climbin’ Simon” - is one of Homeland’s founding members and one of its most visible. Prior to joining Homeland, Shepherd had been active in PA’s Yorkshire region for several years. We photographed Shepherd at numerous PA national and regional events and he was regularly visible in photographs published by PA Yorkshire taken across the region and beyond.

Shepherd on a recent trip to Wildboar Clough in the Peak District.

In PA, Shepherd was a consistent attendee of the group’s fitness events. In Yorkshire these were organised by Jacob Bewick from Sheffield. Bewick is a former supporter of the banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action (NA). PA’s Yorkshire regional organiser Samuel Melia is another former supporter of NA, who was photographed marching and drinking with them. Infamously, Melia was photographed drinking with NA’s leadership after the group was proscribed in 2016. Melia is currently awaiting sentencing, having recently been convicted for intent to stir up racial hatred. PA’s national fitness officer at the time was a former member of NA, Kristofer Kearney, known by the online pseudonym “Charlie Big Potatoes”.

During the same period Shepherd was attending PA’s fitness events in Yorkshire, Kearney was arrested in Spain, extradited to Britain and then charged with two counts of disseminating terrorist publications. Kearney ran a ‘Fascist Fitness’ Telegram channel, in which attendees of PA’s fitness events used to post topless selfies. On two occasions, Kearney shared links in the channel to far-right terrorist manifestos and other documents relating to neo-Nazi terrorism. Kearney pleaded guilty and has been jailed for four years and eight months. Shepherd was a member of and regular contributor to Kearney’s ‘Fascist Fitness’ channel.

Shepherd’s selfie posted in a channel terrorist manifestos were shared in.

Kearney was also a host of The Absolute State of Britain (TASOB) podcast, described by another host as “Britain’s most racist podcast”. TASOB was founded by Ashley Podsiad-Sharp from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Podsiad-Sharp worked as a prison officer in Leeds. He was also interested in ‘fascist fitness’, a contributor to Kearney’s Telegram chat, and in the summer of 2020 founded a neo-Nazi fitness group called the White Stag Athletic Club (White Stag).

White Stag was partly inspired by Rob Rundo’s Rise Above Movement and the wave of neo-Nazi “Active Clubs”. At its height, White Stag had over 30 members who had to affirm that they were racist when joining and were expected to do physical exercises daily. On a handful of occasions, White Stag held hikes in Britain’s national parks. During one, members of White Stag were photographed doing Nazi salutes on Glyder Fach, Snowdonia.

When Podsiad-Sharp was sentenced to eight years in prison for possessing terrorist material, the judge described the document he had downloaded as a “murder manual for white supremacists”.

“This group of white men whom you recruited was designed to attract disaffected and disillusioned white men who had disordered views. In order to be a member it was necessary to be a racist. You were recruiting men with equally malevolent views to your own for a malign purpose. You appeared to be encouraging them to some form of combat. I have no doubt whatsoever you harboured terrorist intentions and your motivation was terrorism. You had set up the White Stag [Athletic] Club for a criminal and terrorist purpose, in my judgment. Your motivation was undoubtedly terrorism.”

— Judge Jeremy Richardson KC

Homeland’s Simon Shepherd was close to Podsiad-Sharp and White Stag, as we first revealed in our report on Homeland. A forensic analysis of images shared by the White Stag and PA Yorkshire Telegram channels conclusively links Simon Shepherd to the group. This is due to several items of clothing and equipment which Shepherd owns and wore regularly during 2021.

Shepherd (far right) at PA’s national hike in Edale in July 2021.

Shepherd was heavily involved in PA for some time before we were able to identify him. He often appeared in photographs from PA Yorkshire fitness events with his face away from the camera or blurred out and it was clear he was an active member of the group. When we first photographed him ourselves, at PA’s national hike in Edale in 2021, one thing which immediately caught our attention was the distinctive patterned shorts he was wearing, as we’d seen them before in photographs of several events shared by PA.

Shepherd (fourth from right) standing next to Laura Melia.

Several months later, on 6 December 2021, White Stag posted photographs on its Telegram channel of a group of three men scrambling up Wildboar Clough in the Peak District. The photographs were accompanied with the message: “Before attempting a serious challenge -one that pushes a large group to their limits- it’s down to your leaders to recce the route.” While his face is not visible, one of the three men pictured was wearing the same pair of distinctive patterned Prana Mojo shorts that Shepherd owns, as well as a Craghoppers jacket and a Quechua rucksack previously worn by Simon Shepherd in photographs published by PA.

Image shared on White Stag Athletic Club Telegram channel on 6 December 2021, geolocated to Wildboar Clough, the Peak District.

This is Shepherd pictured on a hike with two other men, which was photographed and posted on the Telegram channel of Podsiad-Sharp’s neo-Nazi “terrorist” fitness club. We can see it’s him because of the three following items, worn by the man in the image and which Shepherd has previously been photographed wearing.

Prana Mojo rock climbing shorts

Shepherd’s distinctively patterned Prana Mojo rock climbing shorts were the first item of clothing to catch our attention. These were the same pair of shorts that Shepherd was wearing when we photographed him in Edale in July 2021. He can also be seen wearing them at PA fitness events and in group photographs taken in the same year and posted on Telegram.

Shepherd is also pictured wearing these shorts in a promotional photograph posted in the White Stag Telegram channel on another occasion. Prospective members are told to direct message @Sarge_FF for vetting in a post accompanied by a photograph of Shepherd on a climbing wall. “Sarge” is one of the pseudonyms used by Podsiad-Sharp. Shepherd can be seen wearing the same expensive Tenaya Oasi climbing shoes in a video posted on the PA Fitness club channel, where he shows his face (below, right).

Quechua Bionassay 55+10 rucksack

Shepherd wore the same Quechua Bionassay 55+10 rucksack during a PA publicity stunt where the group’s activists were photographed giving food to homeless white people in Leeds city centre. While the person distributing food is facing away from the camera, this is clearly Shepherd as he’s wearing the same pair of Brooks trainers which Shepherd has worn to previous PA events (see below). The person wearing the rucksack has a similar build to Shepherd and is out with PA’s Yorkshire region during a period of time when Shepherd was active with them.

Craghoppers AquaDry jacket

The Craghoppers AquaDry jacket which Shepherd is wearing on the White Stag Wildboar Clough hike appears in PA’s photos, such as the below, taken during a scramble on Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia in July 2002. The AquaDry logo can be seen on the right sleeve of the jacket as Shepherd stops to take a photograph. Shepherd appears in a photograph of some members of the group swimming in Llyn Idwal after the hike.

Shepherd taking a photograph during a scramble on Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia.

White Stag never posted pictures of a larger group taking the same route on Wildboar Clough. Two months later, on 5 February 2022, over 20 PA members from their Yorkshire, East Midlands and West Midlands regions scrambled up Wildboar Clough. PA’s scramble was posted all over their social media. Shepherd took part in the scramble (pictured below).

Shepherd behind a PA fitness flag adorned with ‘Embrace the struggle’.

This event was described as a “PA Fitness challenge hike and scramble”. It is highly likely this was the “serious challenge” White Stag said a large group would be attempting a few months previously. Notably, the PA Fitness flag uses the same ‘Embrace the struggle’ slogan that White Stag uses to end its promotional videos.

But Shepherd’s involvement in White Stag isn’t the only connection between Homeland and neo-Nazi terrorism.

Homeland chairman appears on terrorist podcast

To date, two former hosts of the TASOB podcast have been convicted of terrorism offences: Podsiad-Sharp and Kearney. On the podcast, hosts regularly celebrated far-right terrorism. One of Podsiad-Sharp’s former co-hosts, Ryan Williams, referred to the Finsbury Park Mosque attacker Darren Osborne as “Saint Darren” with another host, James Owens saying, “We’re still fighting Hitler’s war, it’s just a guerrilla war now”.

Former TASOB host Ryan Williams attempting to box during a White Stag hiking trip.

Another of Podsiad-Sharp’s former co-hosts, Stefan Rutland, stated on the podcast that he wanted to “teach people how to Holocaust”. In another one of his appearances, Rutland expressed a desire to “execute David Lammy”. Williams, Owens and Rutland have yet to be charged with hate speech or terrorism offences.

In August 2021 a whole episode of the podcast was dedicated to interviewing Homeland chairman Kenny Smith, who was then a national officer for PA. During the interview, Smith talked about how he had helped start PA’s fitness clubs with Kearney. Smith said: “We have created the whole fitness club thing. We started that in January in Scotland, and now we’ve rolled it out nationally with [Kearney] taking the lead on it.”

Homeland officer has shotguns seized by police

There’s also Homeland’s nominating officer Anthony Burrows, who was revealed in court to have shared links to terrorist material, which first came to light when we unmasked him in 2021. Burrows had his shotguns confiscated and firearms licence revoked after an intervention from Special Branch.

In a recent livestream, PA leader Collett attacked Anthony Burrows, PA’s former East Midlands regional organiser, claiming he is not a “genuine nationalist”, because he didn’t get sent to prison for recklessly sharing terrorist material. Collett appeared to imply that Burrows was a state intelligence asset, saying: “this guy hasn’t been arrested for good reason”.

By splitting from PA, Homeland is trying to wipe the slate clean and distance themselves from neo-Nazi terrorism. But Homeland can’t escape the fact that its founders have close ties to men who are serving time for terrorism offences.

These links aren’t a surprise, Homeland was founded by people who were in PA with former supporters of banned neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action and while a national officer of PA was convicted of neo-Nazi terrorism offences.

As the party grows, it will continue to attract Hitler worshippers who fantasise about political violence. We can expect to see these links multiply.

If you have any additional information regarding our investigations or any other far-right organisers or activists, please reach out to us confidentially and securely via encrypted channels, using Signal at +447459331025 or via email at [email protected].

Your contributions are invaluable to us, and we sincerely appreciate your support.

Homeland Yorkshire

Read more