Sam Melia: Another Patriotic Alternative Racist Behind Bars

David Lawrence and Gregory Davis - 01 03 24

A HOPE not hate investigation has helped put one of the UK’s leading neo-Nazis behind bars

Sam Melia, a leading member of the fascist group Patriotic Alternative (PA), has been sentenced to two years after being found guilty of race hate offences. 

Melia was convicted in Leeds Crown Court of intent to stir up racial hatred and of encouraging racially aggravated criminal damage, charges that relate to his role as head of the Hundred Handers, a fascist propaganda network. HOPE not hate exposed Melia as the figure behind the anonymous stickering group in August 2020. 

Melia is the de facto third-in-command at PA, the UK’s most active fascist organisation, being the regional organiser of its flagship Yorkshire branch, husband to PA Deputy Leader Laura Towler and one of the group’s most regular public speakers.

Whilst PA is portraying Melia as a victim of an “anti-white tyranny” – and has raised £28,000 off the back of the trial – he has a long history of extreme racism. HOPE not hate has previously exposed Melia’s past in National Action (NA), a now-banned nazi terror group. Police also found posters of Hitler and a Nazi emblem at his home in Farsley, near Leeds, upon his arrest in April 2021.

The conviction is the highest profile in a series to rock PA. HOPE not hate has identified five individuals linked to the group, including three key activists, who were put behind bars for hate crime or terror-related offences in 2023 alone.

Below is an overview of Melia’s sordid political history and what his conviction means for PA.

The Hundred Handers

Emerging in the summer of 2018, the Hundred Handers was a loose network of far-right activists that plastered lampposts, walls, bus stops and even primary schools with racist and highly antisemitic stickers.

Melia controlled the centralised archive of crude designs, encouraging others to print and distribute the stickers and then send photos back to him to be displayed on social media. Melia prided himself on the secrecy of the operation, boasting that he had established a “completely anonymous” network and that was “protect[ed] from infiltration”.

In conversation with a far-right American YouTuber in October 2018, Melia explained the intentions behind his new project and expressed frustration that the British far right was too focused on Muslims and insufficiently antisemitic:

“If that’s what it takes to make the Saxon hate then yeah, let’s centre it all on Islam, and then once we’ve dealt with that we can diversify to other areas that need cleaning up […] they’ll tar every Muslim with the same kind of brush, but then as soon as you get to this big nose fella over here – maybe he’s got something going to him, it’s like “no way, we couldn’t possibly, we love Israel”, it’s really bizarre.”

He went on to encourage his activists to target their stickers at schoolchildren, having himself tweeted images of stickers across the road from a local primary school in his then-hometown of Yeadon, West Yorkshire:

“I mean there’s school routes, you know you find these kids who are just getting indoctrinated every day and so maybe you put up a sticker there that just sparks a thought in the head or makes them realise that oh, my teacher doesn’t know everything”

He also described the lengthy process by which he and his fellow activists would slowly induct new members into their group. After an initial Skype call:

“We’d normally meet in a pub and talk and start it off tame, not immediately go into “gas the kikes” or anything like that, you just kind of talk news […] but yeah, be wary, don’t go 100% from the get-go, because you don’t know who people are in reality”

The Hundred Handers ceased activity upon Melia’s arrest in April 2021.

Tip of the Iceberg

Sam Melia at an anti-migrant protest in Erskine, Renfrewshire, 5 February 2023. Picture: HOPE not hate

The Hundred Handers is just one episode in Melia’s extensive history in the extreme far right. Hailing from Bradford, he claims he was radicalised through 4chan as a teenager, citing the misogynistic “Gamergate” harassment-campaign as a radicalising influence. He has since cycled through a series of far-right groups and has been the subject of several exposés as details of his activism have come to light. 

Melia claims to be an ex-UKIP member, defecting for its anti-Muslim offshoot For Britain after its formation in October 2017. He represented For Britain in the 2018 local elections in Leeds; that year he also attended events organised by the now-defunct Generation Identity UK, which advocated for a form of racial segregation. Melia was rejected by both groups after his involvement in National Action was exposed by HOPE not hate (outlined further below). 

During this period, Melia also helped organise a series of meetups arranged via the Daily Stormer, a notorious nazi website. In July 2017, he also claimed that he had “signed up” to Vanguard Britannia, a short-lived, highly antisemitic outfit that soon rebranded as System Resistance Network (SRN). SRN would eventually be banned by the Home Office in February 2020 as an “alias” of NA.

Using the pseudonyms “UKOvenDealer” and “FethingGaunt” on Twitter, Melia freely expressed a virulent hatred of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people and directed abuse and threats towards other users.

Tweets from Melia’s now-deleted account

For example in 2016, Melia responded to a journalist who had highlighted an allegation that Nigel Farage had chanted “gas the Jews” while at school. Melia told the journalist that “these activities will be commonplace soon” and that he would “hang” for some unspecified crime:

Tweets from Melia’s now-deleted account

HOPE not hate exposed Melia’s involvement in PA in August 2020. He remains a key PA activist nationally, despite being a regular source of bad press for the group.

Laura Towler: The Fascist Fantasist

Laura Towler and her husband Sam Melia at an anti-migrant protest in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, 23 April 2023. Picture: HOPE not hate

PA has portrayed Melia as a martyr, denouncing the conviction as “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice we have ever witnessed” and raising over £28,000 in his name. 

However, PA leaders Mark Collett and Laura Towler have repeatedly lied to both the public and the PA membership about the details of Melia’s past. This is unsurprising given that the PA leadership has never been interested in honesty, routinely exaggerating PA’s size and influence and downplaying or denying setbacks – except from when they can be spun to fit a narrative of victimisation by the state.

Towler (real name Laura Tyrie) is especially prone to fabrication, including in relation to her husband. For example, in October 2021 Towler went on record to claim that: 

“There is no evidence to suggest that Sam has or has ever had any involvement in the Hundred Handers”. 

Towler also continues to insist that Melia has “never been a member of National Action”, even assuring the PA membership in May 2021 that Melia has “never [had] a single conversation with anybody in NA”:

Laura Towler denying Melia’s links to National Action

This is despite HOPE not hate previously having published a picture of Melia marching alongside the group, including its public leader Ashley Bell, in 2016. Other photos we can release of the event show Melia standing in formation with other members under a forest of NA-branded flags:

Melia (circled) at a National Action demo in Darlington, 2016

In November 2021, we published another photo of Melia alongside prominent members of NA, including its national leader Chris Lythgoe and key activist Mark Jones, both of whom would serve prison sentences for their post-ban activism in the group. The photo was taken in July 2017 – more than six months after NA was banned under anti-terror legislation:

Manchester, 8 July 2017. L-R: Lucas Beckett, Oliver Ashton, Christopher Lythgoe, unknown, Sam Melia, unknown, Radoslaw Rekke and Mark Jones

As HOPE not hate subsequently uncovered, Melia himself even admitted his past in the group in a post made on the notorious nazi Daily Stormer forums, in March 2017:

“I’m looking to setup a Yorkshire Book Club and thought the Yorkshire Forum in April would be a good starting point for a meet.

I was looking to get involved in the white nationalist movement a while back and joined a local NA branch and attended one rally before they were declared illegal and disbanded (great timing, thanks cucked gov). Since then I’ve not been able to make contact with anyone from the group so I thought I’d start from scratch myself.

Please message me here or on twitter @FethingGaunt if you’re interested.” 

PA has attempted to conceal links between several other key PA activists and NA, which have been outlined by HOPE not hate at length.

Behind Bars

Melia’s is by far the most significant PA conviction yet. The group has come under increasing scrutiny from the authorities, with several key activists locked up last year. 

This includes James Costello, who compèred PA’s 2023 conference and received five years for race hate offences in November; James Allchurch, who hosted audio and video for PA’s various shows via his own nazi website, and received two and a half years for race hate offences in May; and Kris Kearney, a former NA member who served as PA’s national “fitness officer” and received four years and eight months for terror-related offences in June.

These convictions are taking a heavy toll on PA, which has also been diminished by splits over the last year, and are likely to alienate existing members and potential recruits. 

PA will attempt to paint Melia’s conviction as some kind of heroic martyrdom and, as ever, obscure the extreme ideology that has fuelled his long journey through various far-right groups and pseudonymous activities. But as HOPE not hate has highlighted for many years, Melia’s obsession with promoting hate and division makes him a danger to society as a whole. 

For more information on the Homeland Party, read our report: The Fascist Fringe: Patriotic Alternative and its Splinter Groups

Read the full report



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