UK: C18 leader was police informer
01 March 1998
Charlie Sargent, the former leader of Combat 18 (C18) who is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of fellow nazi, Christopher Castle, was a police informer according to a BBC television documentary, World in Action on April 6. The programme presented evidence that confirmed suspicions that the fascist organisation had been deeply infiltrated by the police. It also raised serious questions about the Special Branch guidelines that govern the use of informers.
Anti-fascists had been aware since the early 1990s that some C18 players had close contacts with the police when, following clashes in central London, several key C18 activists were observed being driven to safety in unmarked police cars. The alarming regularity with which senior C18 members avoided prosecution after carrying out brutal attacks on opponents who, in many cases, were able to identify them, merely confirmed that the nazis were being allowed to operate unhindered by the law.
The arrest of Eddie Whicker and jailing of Terry Blackham during 1993-94 (see Statewatch Vol. 3, no 3) for attempting to smuggle weapons to loyalists in Northern Ireland confirmed not only deepening links with the criminal underworld/loyalism but more importantly the extent of the police penetration of the organisation. At this key juncture, the programme alleged, Sargent began to work directly with the UDAs Commander in east Belfast passing on shipments of ecstasy and at least two consignments of weapons from C18.
By January 1995 the police had raided the homes of several top C18 organisers including Sargent's former right-hand-man, Will Browning, and seized material including bomb-making manuals and instruction books for snipers. They also uncovered documents that showed that the group were surveilling targets, including World In Action journalist, Quentin McDermott, who had worked on an earlier programme exposing the fascists. Former C18 organiser, Darren Wells, confirmed that McDermott was under observation and that the group had decided to "up the stakes" by targeting him. The plans were abandoned following the police raid on Browning. Nonetheless, numerous other figures, such as the Anti-Nazi League's Jill Emerson, were attacked; Emerson only survived an arson attack on her home because a firedoor had been fitted after previous threats.
According to the programme doubts about Sargent grew among the C18 leadership following the arrests but they did not have evidence to support their suspicions. During the planning of their 1997 Danish letter bomb campaign (see Statewatch Vol. 7, no. 2 & 4) they took precautions to ensure that Sargent was not supplied with an up-to-date list of targets and, in the days after the letter bombs arrived, the outdated names appeared in the press and other media. An undercover policeman who had also infiltrated C18, and attended high-level planning meetings, confirmed that the names could only have come from Sargent. He also claimed that police appeared to have knowledge of events prior to his informing them and was convinced that Sargent was the source of their information.
Following Sargent's exposure and expulsion he established the rival National Socialist Movement (NSM) which he led briefly until his imprisonment. The NSM have mainly been active in providing heavies to support ventures by the minuscule National Front which is attempting to fill the gap on the streets left by the parliamentary ambitions of the British National Party. The C18 remnants led by Will Browning have become increasingly bellicose in their propaganda; however, they too have been deeply penetrated by the police. At least one of the fascists who was observed getting into the police car, mentioned above, was a key player in the current C18 line-up.<