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Darren Wells
Ex-Combat 18 man speaks out

Darren Wells was a senior figure within the extreme far right group Combat 18 from 1994 to 2001. But for the last two years, he has been informing on his former friends.

Wells became disillusioned with the far right in 1999 after a friend was killed in an internal feud. Wells said, "I decided to get out before I completely ruined my life."

He has been working for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight for the last two years. Wells gave an exclusive interview to Panorama before leaving the country to start a new life.

He said, "I knew that I would either end up dead or be in prison for the rest of my life. I also began to realise the stupidity of what I was involved in."

His involvement in far right activities began in 1994 through his association with football hooliganism with the infamous Chelsea Headhunters.

Combat 18

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler: Inspiration for Combat 18
He attended several Loyalist street activities before getting involved in Combat 18. He described the organisation as fundamentally neo-nazi, its principles based on fascism.

Combat 18 takes its name from the first and eighth letters of the alphabet - A and H, the initials for Adolf Hitler.

Throughout the 1990's Combat 18 was associated with acts of terrorism and violence including arson attacks.

Wells said, "I still believe some of the things I used to believe in, but I now realise that you can't go around hurting innocent people."

Oldham riots

Oldham riots
A scene from the Oldham riots
He was present at the Oldham riot on 26 May 2001 with other leading Combat 18 activists and local football hooligans.

They had travelled from around the country in an attempt to provoke violent retaliation from the town's Asian community.

Darren Wells, with cropped hair and a stocky build, looked the part. But he had gone to Oldham in an attempt to prevent trouble.

Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, was also in Oldham. He was canvassing for the General Election with local party organiser Mick Treacy.

They visited the troublemakers in a pub. Wells remembers Griffin telling them, "We are all on the same side."

Griffin firmly denied this allegation when interviewed by Panorama.


The link between Combat 18 and the BNP goes back to the early 1990's. Combat 18 provided "security" at BNP meetings and events.

Your average BNP supporter isn't as intellectual as Griffin

Darren Wells
Wells, as one of the senior organisers in Combat 18, knew of Nick Griffin. He regarded the BNP leader as a figure who shared many of the fundamental beliefs of the far right such as Holocaust denial and forcible repatriation.

Wells is sceptical of the apparent transformation that Griffin claims for himself and his party. He believes most members do not support the party's change in policy from forcible to voluntary repatriation.

He said, "Your average BNP supporter isn't as intellectual as Griffin. They would be just like 'Okay, ship 'em up, let's get a boat off' and that would be it. It would be as simple as that. But Griffin knows he's not going to get elected by saying things like that."

This article was written for Panorama by Nick Lowles of Searchlight magazine. He is also author of the recently published "White Riot! The Violent History of Combat 18".

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