Socialist Worker

The bomb plot that didn’t make the news headlines

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2022

Police claimed last week that they had seized what was potentially the largest ever haul of chemical explosives plus a rocket launcher and a nuclear and biological protection suit.

A lawyer acting for the prosecution said the people that the haul was seized from had “some kind of masterplan”.

But for once the national media did not react with stories about a plot to blow up a football ground or bring down airliners, or some other gross threat.

There were no lofty editorials about “home grown terrorists”.

Home secretary John Reid did not hold a special press conference peppered with Churchillian rhetoric. The entire national press coverage in the first week after the arrests amounted to 52 words.

And the reason was that those arrested were not “Muslim terrorists” but people linked to the Nazi British National Party (BNP).

 Robert Cottage, 49, of Talbot Street, Colne, appeared before Burnley magistrates last week charged with possession of an explosive substance.

He was charged under the Explosives Substances Act 1883 (not terrorism charges). Some 22 chemical components are believed to have been recovered from his house.

Cottage stood for the BNP in the May elections in the Vivary Bridge ward of Pendle Council.

And 62 year old retired dentist David Bolus Jackson, of Trent Road, Nelson, was charged with similar offences.

It has been reported that police discovered a rocket launcher, a nuclear biological suit, chemicals and BNP literature at his home.

Unlike the Forest Gate raid in east London in June, which involved 250 police, some of them armed, Lancashire police entered Cottage’s home with a handful of unarmed officers.

There was no “air exclusion zone” or assaults on neighbours, no closing down of surrounding streets, and no smear stories about those arrested.

Superintendent Neil Smith instantly moved to reassure residents and stressed, “It is not a bomb making factory.” He was able to add that it was not related to terrorism. The pair have now been remanded in custody and will appear at Burnley Crown Court on 23 October.

Unlike the rest of the press, Socialist Worker put the story prominently on its website as soon as the information became available. It has proved one of our most successful web news stories ever (A terror raid that doesn't make the headlines – despite chemical explosives and a rocket launcher).

Update 23 February 2007

A jury has failed to reach verdicts in the trial of a former British National Party (BNP) candidate and a dentist accused of plotting to make bombs.

Robert Cottage, 49, and David Jackson, 62, both of Lancashire, denied conspiracy to make an explosion with chemicals ordered over the internet.

The jury at Manchester Crown Court informed Justice Beatson they were unable to reach a majority verdict.

They were discharged after three days' deliberation. There will be a retrial.

Cottage, from Talbot Street, Colne, pleaded guilty to possession of explosives at the start of his trial

The former BNP candidate, who failed to be elected in three local elections, told the jury he thought civil unrest would break out and that he had stockpiled food, petrol and chemicals to make gunpowder.

He and dentist David Jackson, of Trent Road, Nelson, both denied conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

Jackson, who was not a BNP member but had attended several party meetings, also denied one count of possessing explosives.

The case centred around a police search of Mr Cottage's home last September which uncovered ball bearings, a host of chemicals and a document called the Anarchy Cookbook, which detailed how to make bombs.

After interviewing Mr Cottage, they later recovered two nuclear protection suits and bows and arrows from Mr Jackson's home in Trent Road, Nelson.

Both men were remanded in custody.

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Article information

Sat 14 Oct 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2022
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