Carry On Camping: The Far-Right Shambles at RAF Scampton

14 02 24

Whether they’ve been battling the elements or each other, the anti-migrant blockade of the Lincolnshire air base RAF Scampton has been a disaster from the start.

Having lasted over 100 days, the makeshift blockade of RAF Scampton, set up in protest against Government plans to use the site as temporary asylum accommodation, is now in a state of flux, with former Patriotic Alternative fascist, Alek Yerbury, and his supporters calling time on their involvement. 

Ever since the announcement from the Government to use RAF Scampton as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers, the far right has tried to jump on the issue and infiltrate local campaigns against the plan.

End of an era: Alek Yerbury’s Telegram post on the closure of the Scampton camp

Whilst Yerbury and associates – who targeted and took control of the campaign early on – might be retreating, a collection of local activists and others have since indicated their determination to keep the protest camp operating.

Nevertheless, throughout its duration, the camp has acted as a magnet for all sorts of strange and odious figures from across the UK’s anti-migrant movement. At times, Scamp Camp has looked certain to collapse under the weight of dubious behaviour from those in and around it, but somehow it has dragged on – down but not out.

Despite there already being a degree of local opposition to the Government’s plans, this group has managed to alienate just about everyone; driving many of the 5,000+ members of the primary Facebook page to despair with their antics.

Whilst the camp’s future might be in the balance, many of the self-selected “key figures” will quickly pivot to other movements and campaigns. The memories of the shambles at Scampton, however, will take much longer to dissipate.

The organisers: Alek Yerbury & Scott Pitts

Alek Yerbury, the oddball fascist who served in the British Army, and Scott Pitts, the former English Defence League (EDL) activist, took control of the Scampton camp in its early days.

Yerbury is a former Patriotic Alternative (PA) activist who founded the National Support Detachment (NSD) street movement with Pitts. Taking inspiration from a similar protest camp that took place outside a hotel in Llanelli, the pair sought to replicate its set-up outside the main gate of the Lincolnshire air base.

Yerbury’s self-appointed leadership position has seen him take it upon himself, particularly in the early weeks, to keep the camp operational and provide details of the camp’s finances. However, he often struggled to keep his frustration at his fellow protesters under-wraps, laying into them about their unruly behaviour, their excessive drinking and drug use, as well as their choices of clothing.

Mask off: balaclavas banned at the Main Gate

Yerbury’s dictatorial approach has aggravated many attendees, with his diatribes on Facebook inevitably causing more conflict in a group already riven with it.

Delusions of grandeur: Alek Yerbury criticises his fellow protesters

Yerbury has even turned his fire on his number two, lambasting Pitts after he made the bizarre decision to bring a large quantity of fireworks in the first days of the camp, only to be promptly arrested by police. Pitts, who was detained at a demonstration in 2019, and was allegedly drunk at the time of the fireworks incident, was subsequently barred from coming within 3 miles of the site for a period.

Conditions at the Scampton camp: Home, sweet home? 

The level of dilapidation at the Scampton main camp has served as an apt metaphor for the campaign as a whole.

Shabby, makeshift awnings were erected outside the main gate, hosting rudimentary cooking facilities packed with instant noodles, beans and soups, whilst a ramshackle social area sat forlornly next door. Out front, protesters tried desperately to keep warm by burning vast quantities of wood in the freezing winter temperatures. Despite this, several of the core campers were forced to take a leave of absence due to illness – including one individual who required on-site medical attention from one Scampton agitator who has been employed by the National Health Service (NHS).

Shabby chic…only without the chic

A few metres along from the Main Camp, a layby has contained some beaten-up caravans, themselves kept faintly warm by generators, which act as the on-site accommodation. Leader of the Yorkshire Patriots, David Smaller, became well-acquainted with the caravans, having spent over 85 nights at the Scampton camp. Elsewhere, the two portaloos positioned next to the main tent were scaled back to one in a desperate bid to save money. Each was being rented for £28 a week.

Almost without fail, videos recorded at the camp served to amplify the mess and disorganisation in which the protesters are living. While fragments of firewood often covered the ground, weather-beaten signs and bunting flapped sadly in the wind as large vehicles, including articulated lorries, hurtled past the site pumping fumes directly into the living quarters.

Winds of change: the Scampton camp has taken a battering

At one point last autumn, such was the extent of the squalor at the Scampton camp, that leader of fascist organisation Patriotic Alternative, Mark Collett, arrived with a handful of activists to give the site an urgent spruce. It would appear that it had become a depressing local eyesore and had turned the campaign into a laughing stock.

Assorted far-right activists: With friends like these…

Unsurprisingly, acrimony and infighting have been a consistent feature at Scampton. Since its inception, disputes between activists have frequently boiled over into accusations of dishonesty, treachery, skullduggery and sabotage. Whilst the number of questionable figures in and around Scampton over the last 100 days has been significant, here we highlight in particular Darren Edmundson, Paul Leeming, Simon Scott, and Simon Avison. 

Former PA activist Darren Edmundson, who hung around at the camp, became a wanted man in November 2023 when he was widely accused of stealing money via a Scampton fundraiser. Edmundson had been the administrator of the fundraising page and, allegedly, had failed to transfer the funds raised to the campaign pot. Whilst fury and threats flew, Edmundson (who later claimed his innocence) kept a low profile, supposedly in possession of hundreds of pounds.

Darren Edmundson: persona non grata

Also often present at the Scampton camp has been the Leeds-based football hooligan and member of the Yorkshire Patriots, Paul Leeming, and NSD activist Simon Scott. Leeming, who was very active in the anti-migrant movement in 2023, has a sizeable criminal past, including a conviction for grievous bodily harm last year. 

Meanwhile, Scott, who was formerly involved with the English Defence League, has (according to his partner) been previously investigated for posts he made on Facebook in support of the now-banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action, though he was not ultimately charged. Scott is also a passionate fan of white power music; frequently sharing graphics in support of notorious acts such as Skrewdriver and Whitelaw.

Other disgraced Scampton figures included Simon Avison, the Birmingham conspiracy activist and founder of the anti-migrant ‘MIDLANDS SAYS NO’ campaign, one of the principle organisers of the camp. Having been accused of a range of troubling behaviour, Avison was ejected, despite having been a permanent fixture there for many weeks.

Alleged direct messages between Pitts and Avison containing one of the troubling accusations

Avison attended several anti-migrant protests alongside the NSD and Yorkshire Patriots  in 2023, and had become friendly with Pitts in particular. With Avison’s former partner, Samatha Foley, announcing their separation and attacking Avison for his behaviour, many in the far right tried desperately to distance themselves from him. 

Simon Avison

However, Scampton infighting came to a head in February 2024. Following instances of sickness-imposed absence at the Main Camp, a group of protesters previously associated with Main Camp returned to the site. A subsequent video which circulated of one activist tearing down and burning the camp’s Dambusters-themed banner outraged activists at the Main site.

In the late hours of Saturday 3rd Feb, a group of masked individuals attacked protesters at Gate 8, situated at a different entry point, wounding one and threatening others. Whilst varied accusations circulated, it is widely alleged that the attackers were linked to the Main Camp (where most far-right involvement has been situated), and that the attack itself was a show of force.

Carry on Camping: accusations fly after Gate 8 camp is attacked

As the news broke, what little support there was left for the Scampton protesters seemed to dissipate, as group members lambasted the organisers with utter disbelief over their conduct. With Government plans unmoving, arguments between rival Scampton factions only frustrated supporters further, with comments of “we’re all on the same side” falling on deaf ears. In reality, one group physically attacking another was the most likely endpoint for a campaign that has been dogged by infighting and acrimony from the beginning.

Conclusion: Fried Scamp Camp 

Whoever is in charge, the Scampton blockade will fail. The multiple entry points make the site much harder to block, and the winter conditions have sapped energy and enthusiasm from those in attendance.

However, the sheer extent of the chaos and delinquency on site over the last 100 days has taken some by surprise, with only a snapshot of the levels of misbehaviour presented here. This has been a campaign with grim politics at its heart. Racism, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories have been ever-present, with frequent posts each day on the ‘RAF Scampton real action’ Facebook page revealing the true nature of the campaign.

Hateful: opponents of the Scampton camp fantasise about the deaths of cross-Channel migrants

Yerbury, Pitts and their associates stepping away does not mean the end of far-right involvement in the campaign at RAF Scampton. HOPE not hate has concerns regarding several figures linked to new arrivals, the Great British Guardians, who have appeared to take over the running alongside some familiar local faces.

The truth is that campaigns against the specific use of a site for temporary accommodation purposes are easily exploited by the far right with their broader anti-migrant agenda. Given that anti-migrant politics remains the lightning rod for the movement at large, far-right activists will continue to sniff around Scampton with the hope of building momentum behind their cause.


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