ITV's The Walk-In, starring the acclaimed Stephen Graham as Matthew Collins, returned for an unflinching and distressing second episode on Monday night (10th October).

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Set against the backdrop of the Brexit campaign, the five-part series makes for an unsettling watch as Matthew Collins, a former Neo-Nazi turned anti-fascist, uses his knowledge of far-right organisations to train moles, also known as walk-ins, on how to infiltrate groups.

In the latest episode, Collins recalls a particularly brutal attack on a library full of mothers that he instigated. The harrowing scene sees Collins and his violent racist group launch a violent attack on a group of women, many of whom were Black and Asian.

The Walk-In cast includes a few real-life figures as well as Collins, including Neo-Nazi Jack Renshaw and Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles.

Want to know the true story behind the events depicted in The Walk-In, including the real-life assassination attempt uncovered by Collins's associate Robbie Mullen? Read on for all the details.

The Walk-In true story explained

The background

Jack talking to someone while sat down
ITV

Played by Dean-Charles Chapman, neo-Nazi Jack Renshaw first caught the attention of police with various inflammatory speeches in which he promoted the idea of a Jewish genocide. Analysis of the Lancastrian's phone also appeared to reveal he’d been grooming two under-age boys, and he was convicted of child sexual offences in 2018.

Renshaw, who'd also previously aligned himself with the BNP Youth, was interviewed about the offences by Victoria Henderson, a detective constable who subsequently became the target of a murderous revenge plot.

The plan

Dean-Charles Chapman as Jack in The Walk-In.
Dean-Charles Chapman as Jack in The Walk-In. ITV

Renshaw outlined his plan in front of a meeting at a Warrington pub in July 2017, which included the leader of the extreme, and illegal, rightwing group National Action, Christopher Lythgoe.

National Action, whose membership stood at around the 100 mark, had become renowned for demonstrating while wearing black skull masks and giving Nazi salutes. The group was described by prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC as spreading "virulently racist, antisemitic and homophobic propaganda through which it sought to stir up a violent race war against ethnic minorities and others it perceived as race traitors".

According to Atkinson, Renshaw wanted to first kill MP Rosie Cooper with a machete - "19 inches of unprecedented piercing and slashing power at a bargain price" - that he’d already bought online. He'd also researched the politician’s schedule and Googled "How long to die after jugular cut," planning to taking various hostages in a nearby pub where he’d ask for Henderson.

His plan would then see him murder the DC on her arrival before revealing a fake suicide vest, prompting cops to fatally shoot him on a sight. In a video to be released posthumously, the deceased would claim his actions were carried out in the name of "white jihad".

How was the plot foiled?

Alongside others associated with National Action, the meeting was also attended by Robbie Mullen. Appalled by what he heard, the former warehouse worker tipped off the head of intelligence for anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate, Matthew Collins.

Mullen, who’d first joined National Action due to feelings of disillusionment, later told The Independent, "I was saving myself in a way, I knew something was going to happen eventually. Things were just getting strange – with Jack especially."

Who was Matthew Collins?

Matthew stood in front of a brick wall looking ahead

Matthew Collins was undoubtedly the right man to contact. A former far-right activist himself, he’d also turned informant on the National Front before spending the following 10 years hiding out in Australia. Collins ensured that Mullen would gain immunity before handing him over to police, whose investigation led to an Old Bailey trial.

Since his return home, Collins has worked tirelessly in the fight against the online radicalising of young white men, even writing a book about the subject.

"They fall into rabbit holes and my job is try to get and keep them on the straight and narrow, keep up a good flow of information," he told The Guardian ahead of The Walk-In's premiere.

Collins had already been keeping tabs on National Action before Mullen alerted him to Renshaw’s plan.

Why Rosie Cooper?

Rosie Cooper having her photo taken at an event
The real-life Rosie Cooper.

During the Old Bailey trial, Atkinson claimed that it was her because of political allegiance. As an MP for Labour since 2005, Cooper was believed to have been in favour of the party's supportive immigration policies. This was also given as a reason for the murder of Jo Cox a year earlier. National Action’s support of the horrific crime led to their banning by then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

What happened to Robbie Mullen?

Robbie sat in a chair, looks very concerned
ITV

Mullen, played by Andrew Ellis in the drama, continued to show up at National Action meetings to cover up the fact he was the man who’d exposed Renshaw’s plan. He also gave further evidence against other group members before his mole status became apparent.

The Warrington resident admitted he’d received multiple serious death threats since. However, Mullen turned down the offer of witness protection as he didn’t want to leave his family life behind. Despite having to continually watch his back, Mullen told The Guardian that he “wouldn’t change a single thing” he did. He now has a researcher role within Hope Not Hate.

What happened to the targets?

Matthew and Robbie sat at a table in a pub having a conversation

On the very same day that The Walk-In's premiere was announced in September 2022, Cooper revealed she was standing down from her position as MP to take up a role in the NHS. The politician said she's undergone a "considerable period of soul-searching" following the murder plot case, with her decision triggering a by-election in the process.

Cooper had previously spoken out following Renshaw’s sentencing in 2019, saying: "I wish I could say the planned attack has not changed me… but it has had a detrimental impact." She also revealed that she'd had to adopt a much more controlled policy when it came to her constituency meetings and thanked Mullen for providing the information that had saved her life.

Henderson also discussed how the incident had impacted her, with trouble sleeping and a fear of running alone being just two of the effects. However, she remained defiant, adding: "I have overcome this and will not let Jack Renshaw ruin my life."

More like this

The Walk-In airs on Monday 17th October on ITV at 9pm. The full series will also be available to watch as a boxset on the ITV Hub. You can also get a 30-day free trial of ITV Hub+ on Amazon Prime Video here.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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