Mikko Vehvilainen

British Soldier Was Jailed For Being Part Of Neo-Nazi Group

Mikko Vehvilainen

When he was arrested, Mikko Vehvilainen told his wife he was "being arrested for being a patriot" (Picture: West Midlands Police).

A British Army soldier was at the heart of a neo-Nazi terrorist group which set its sights on recruiting within the armed forces.

The Royal Anglian Regiment soldier Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 34, was, it can now be reported, convicted after a trial in March of being a member of neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action, and was jailed for eight years.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC, sentencing, said Vehvilainen had a "long and deep-seated adherence" to racist ideology.

Prosecutors said at his trial that Vehvilainen was working within the Army as a "recruiter" for the banned organisation.

It can now be revealed he was connected to three other soldiers, one of whom was thrown out of the Army.

The two others are understood to have been disciplined, though one has since left.

The fallout from Vehvilainen's trial led to Sergeant Major Glenn Haughton posting a social media video which said:

"If you're a serving soldier or a would-be soldier, and you hold these intolerant and extremist views, as far as I'm concerned, there is no place for you in the British Army - so get out."

Mikko Vehvilainen
Police found this photograph of Mikko Vehvilainen giving a Nazi-style salute at a 1917 memorial to his native Finland's independence (Picture: West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit).

Vehvilainen appeared in the Birmingham Crown Court dock at his trial alongside fellow 2 Anglians soldier Private Mark Barrett, who was also accused of membership of the banned group.

Barrett was acquitted of being a National Action member, but jurors heard that he had a cardboard swastika openly displayed on his windowsill at Alexander Barracks in Cyprus.

The 25-year-old told police during interviews that his sketchbook doodles of the Nazi symbol and Second World War German tanks had been at the behest of "intimidating" Vehvilainen.

It is understood that Vehvilainen and Barrett, formerly of Kendrew Barracks, Cottesmore, Rutland, have since been thrown out of the Army.

Two other soldiers, both of whom knew Vehvilainen, faced criminal charges but were internally disciplined and charges were dropped.

Vehvilainen lived at Sennybridge Camp in Wales, but was renovating a home he had bought in the village of Llansilin.

At the Llansilin house, police found a photograph showing him giving a Nazi-style salute at a 1917 memorial to his native Finland's independence.

Officers also uncovered what prosecutors described as an arsenal of weapons, including a warhammer, a legally held shotgun, swastika bunting and other Nazi paraphernalia.

He had a part-time job at an activity centre nearby and had served with distinction since joining the Army in 2012.

Mikko Vehvilainen wardrobe
Mikko Vehvilainen's wardrobe with uniform and a flag on the door (Picture: West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit).

Vehvilainen's sentencing hearing was told he "served his country and risked his life in Afghanistan", and was considered "an outstanding soldier".

Pavlos Panayi QC told the trial judge: "His career in the Army is over and he leaves having brought dishonour on himself and what is more, infamy."

He admitted possession of a banned pepper spray before his trial, but was cleared of having a document useful to a terrorist and two counts of stirring up racial hatred in online forum posts.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: "Extremist ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the armed forces.

"The armed forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.

"All allegations of unacceptable behaviour are investigated and action taken as appropriate."

All Armed Forces personnel are subject to vetting during recruitment, to establish previous convictions or existing links to extremist or banned organisations.

All ranks receive training on the standards expected of the forces, with annual refreshers.

Following conviction, Colonel Graham Taylor, of the Army Personnel Services Group, said: "Far right ideology is completely at odds with the values and standards of the Army and whilst we are only talking about a very small number of cases we take this issue very seriously.

"We have robust measures in place, including during the recruitment process, to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve.

"Any soldier receiving a custodial sentence will be discharged from the Army."