U.S. Boots Brit
Seven years after moving to the United States, a key British neofascist has been deported. Mark Cotterill, who spent much of his time in America trying to unite factions of the radical right, flew back to England on Nov. 7.
Cotterill will not be eligible for reentry for years, officials said. His May marriage to a U.S. citizen he met on the Internet, Jennifer Lynne Babcock, will not affect that prohibition.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials began investigating Cotterill this year, in the wake of an August exposé in the Intelligence Report. The article reported that Cotterill, creator of the Virginia-based American Friends of the British National Party (AFBNP), had raised some $85,000, for the racist British party in contravention of U.S. law. Agents of foreign political entities must register with the government or face possible felony charges, fines and deportation.
Officials of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes the Report, asked the Justice Department to investigate Cotterill's alleged violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) after the article was published. Instead, FARA officials allowed Cotterill to retroactively register and legalize the AFBNP, then dissolve it on the same day last spring. They declined to discuss their decision, but by that time the probe had already begun.
In March, Cotterill, 42, flew back to England to attend his mother's funeral. Upon his return, he was met at Washington's Dulles Airport by INS agents who told him he was inadmissible because he had been "unlawfully present" in the United States for more than a year. When Cotterill told officials that he would appeal, he was allowed to reenter the country and retain a lawyer.
At a Sept. 10 deportation hearing, INS officials presented evidence, including some compiled by the Report, that Cotterill was in the United States for political reasons, and had lied about that when he initially entered the country.
During the same period, Cotterill joined the National Alliance, America's leading neo-Nazi group. At a late September Alliance meeting at Cotterill's house, BNP activist Stephen Johnson spoke about the European radical right.
Now, Britain could be the loser. Cotterill, who announced in November that he was restarting his group as the Overseas Friends of the British National Party, may be in a better position than ever to build a new organization.
British legal documents show that after June Cotterill's death, Cotterill inherited half of his mother's $520,000 estate. Solicitor Susan Hayes told the Report that the estate was actually larger, but that she could not reveal its other components.