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Sunday 4 December 2016

Suspect a 'loner' with history of mental health problems

Patrick Foster

Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30

Suspect Tommy Mair
Suspect Tommy Mair

The man being held in connection with the death of MP Jo Cox was named yesterday as Thomas Mair, who was described as a "loner" with a history of mental health problems who had previously subscribed to a far-Right magazine.

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Mair (52), who was arrested by armed officers shortly after the attack, had spoken about receiving "psychotherapy and medication", and was described by his younger brother as having "a history of mental illness".

Despite being born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, a decade-old website posting identified Mair as a subscriber to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine that was published by the pro-apartheid group the White Rhino Club.

The club describes the magazine's editorial stance as being against "multicultural societies" and "expansionist Islam", and a blog post attributed to the group, dated January 2006, described Mair as "one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of S. A. Patriot."

Mair, whose home is a small, semi-detached house on the Field Head council estate, in Birstall, is said to have lived in the property for 40 years.

Violent

Neighbours said that he lived with his grandmother, until she died 20 years ago, and had never had any full-time employment.

His brother, Scott (49), told reporters he had wept when he heard about the killing of Mrs Cox. He said: "I am struggling to believe what has happened. My brother is not violent and is not all that political. I don't even know who he votes for.

"He has a history of mental illness, but he has had help."

In 2011, Mair spoke of how he had volunteered to work as a groundsman at the nearby Oakwell Hall County Park, which had helped ease his mental health problems. He told a local newspaper: "I can honestly say it has done me more good than all the psychotherapy and medication in the world."

Last night his house was cordoned off and under police guard as neighbours spoke of the "very quiet, but very helpful" suspect.

Kathleen Cooke (62), said: "I am really shocked. He walked past my house this morning and said 'hello' like he always does. He was wearing a grey T-shirt and his white baseball cap, like he always does, and he was carrying a small rucksack.

"He is just a quiet bloke who keeps himself to himself.

Who are Britain First?

Formed in 2011 by ex-members of the British National Party, Britain First has grown rapidly to become the UK’s most prominent far-right group. It insists that it is not a racist party but campaigns on a familiar anti-immigration platform, calling for the return of “traditional British values” and the end of “Islamisation”.

Although it claims to have just 6,000 members, Britain First has built an army of online fans, using social media to push innocuous causes, such as ending animal cruelty or promoting Remembrance Day poppies, and asking users to “like” its messages. It now has more than 1.4 million “likes” on Facebook, more than any other British political party. A January march targeted Dewsbury near Jo Cox’s Batley and Spen constituency and featured 120 Britain First members carrying crucifixes and Union flags. She wrote on Twitter at the time: “Very proud of the people of Dewsbury and Batley – who faced down the racism and fascism of the extreme right with calm unity.”

Irish Independent

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