Older men are now the main perpetrators of rightwing terror attacks, the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism said on Monday after the firebomb attack on an immigration centre.
Jonathan Hall KC’s observation come as Rishi Sunak said that tackling Channel crossings by people seeking asylum was his “key priority” while attending Cop27.
In his first comments since the attack by Andrew Leak, 66, who is believed to have thrown three incendiary devices at a Dover migration centre before taking his own life, Hall wrote that it was “consistent with a recent pattern. That is, the most recent completed Extreme Right Wing Terrorist [ERWT] attacks all being carried out by older men”.
In a Twitter thread, Hall pointed out that the attempted murder of Dimitar Mihaylov, 19, in Stanwell was carried out by Vincent Fuller, 50; the Exeter Synagogue arson attack of 2018 was carried out by Tristan Morgan, 51; the 2017 Finsbury Park murder of Makram Ali was carried out by Darren Osborne, 48; while Thomas McNair, 52, was found guilty of the 2016 murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.
He said that the last rightwing terror attack by a younger man was in 2015 when Zack Davies, 25, attempted to murder a shopper in a Welsh branch of Tesco.
“There *are* more recent ERWT plots by younger (sometimes much younger) people, but for some reason do not lead to completed attacks,” he wrote.
“There are various possible explanations: more likely to give away their plans, leading to detection and frustration; less capable; lack of intent to go through with attack; lack of access to ideal weapons.”
Sunak plans to press Emmanuel Macron for a new deal to curb Channel crossings, reports have claimed.
The prime minister and the French president are expected to discuss the issue at the UN climate change conference in Egypt on Monday.
Sunak wants to agree targets for stopping boats and a minimum number of French officers patrolling beaches. The government also hopes Border Force officers can be deployed to French beaches, but this has been resisted by French authorities.
“I have spent more time working on that in the last few days than anything else other than the autumn statement,” Sunak told the Sun.
“We have to get a grip, do a range of things to stop it from happening, return people who shouldn’t be here in the first place.”
During a visit to Imperial College London, the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, urged Sunak to discuss how to “work upstream” to bring down the people smugglers behind the crossings.
Almost 40,000 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats so far this year. But there were no crossings in the first six days of November amid bad weather conditions, meaning the provisional total for 2022 to date still stands at 39,913.
In a further development, the government hopes to revive plans for a Bill of Rights to overhaul human rights laws as part of its plans to address the migrant crisis, after they were shelved by Liz Truss’s administration.
Dominic Raab’s proposals, which would aim to give UK courts supremacy over the European court of human rights, will return to parliament “in the coming weeks”, although they are expected to face opposition in the Commons and the Lords.