A campaign group encouraging young people to become “patriotic environmentalists” was set up by a member of a far right extremist organisation, an investigation has found.
British Revival was created as an alternative to Extinction Rebellion by Michael Wrenn, a 24-year-old former regional boss of a group criticised for promoting “hateful extremism”.
Facebook has now banned British Revival from its social media pages for violating its “policies against hate speech” following an investigation by BBC’s Countryfile programme.
Mr Wrenn has admitted the group he started in January as a “platform for patriots who wish to defender heritage and identity” was in the “same ballpark” as Generation Identity, a youth organisation with links to far rights organisations across Europe.
The activist from Torquay in Devon, was the former South West regional head of Generation Identity, which is also banned from Facebook.
Although the group is not proscribed, the Home Office says it promotes “damaging and extreme views”.
The Government’s Commission for Countering Extremism has said the links between the environmental and far right groups were “cause for significant concern.”
Professor Roger Griffin, emeritus professor in modern histc ontryfielory at Oxford Brookes University, analysed British Revival’s online posts for the programme and concluded that while it pretended to be campaigning for a cleaner Britain, “deeper than that is something which links it in with a traditional theme of fascist language.”
Sara Khan, who leads the Commission for Countering Extremism, said: “This is a frightening example of hateful extremism. Far right and neo-fascist groups often present a positive face, appearing to address genuine concerns – from immigration to social change – but closer examination shows this is often cover to push and normalise hatred in the mainstream.
“When a group like British Revival turns out to be founded by a former leader of Generation Identity it is cause for significant concern.”
A Facebook spokesman said: “The administrators of British Revival’s Page were removed for violating our policies against hate speech and their links to Generation Identity. This page has also now come down.”
Mr Wrenn told Countryfile: “I can’t speak for Generation Identity, as I am no longer a member, but, as for British Revival, we stand with the majority of British people with a positive message.
“We disagree with the way they (Generation Identity) portray a negative message. We are in the same general ballpark but that could be said about a lot of groups.”