SCOTS right wing activist Jim Dowson and his links to Russia, fake news and Donald Trump are to be laid bare in Hope Not Hate’s annual audit of racist and extremist organisations in the UK, published today.

Dowson, a former paper napkin salesman from Cumbernauld, is a Calvinist minister who was heavily involved in Northern Ireland’s militant anti-abortion movement. He has spent time in and out of the Orange Order and the BNP, and was responsible for setting up Britain First.

According to Hope Not Hate’s report, Dowson is behind a collection of websites including the Patriot News Agency, which was heavily involved and influential in the American election, posting pro-Trump, anti-Clinton misinformation and propaganda.

Dowson says the posts on his sites were viewed and shared millions of times in the US.

His newest organisation, Knights Templar International, based in Hungary and Bulgaria, has grown over the last year to become a network of far-right parties, militia groups and religious extremists from all over the world. The group have gone on border patrols and supported right-wing militias turning back refugees.

Dowson, who was responsible building Britain’s First Facebook following to 1.4 million followers, has particularly close ties to Russia, and is linked to Aleksandr Dugin, a fascist alleged to be connected to Putin.

He says his strategy during the US election campaign was to spread “devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and soundbites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning”.

Other Scottish figures mentioned in the report include Colin Robertson, who under the moniker Millennial Woes produces white nationalist YouTube videos from his father’s semi-detached house in West Lothian.

Robertson spoke at a National Policy Institute rally in Washington after Trump was elected. At one point during that rally, though not when Robertson was speaking, crowds chanted “Hail Trump” and made Nazi salutes.

After being outed in the Scottish press, the formerly anonymous Robertson went into hiding, claiming to be taking shelter from supporters abroad. However, he has recently returned to making videos.

Hope Not Hate’s researchers identified 28 far-right groups active in the UK, and another cohort of Britons instrumental in propagating so-called “alt-right” views.

“It was a year where a new far-right threat became more evident, one that played out largely on social media and to an international audience,” the report states. “It is a threat that has been at the heart of the global fake news phenomenon and one that can engage and mobilise far greater numbers of people across Europe and north America.”

The organisation names London-based Paul Watson, editor of conspiracy website InfoWars, as a key player in the spreading of conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health in the run-up to the US election. In a number of posts that were seen by hundreds of thousands at least, he suggested she might have had syphilis, brain damage and Parkinson’s disease. Fox News, the right-leaning US broadcaster, took up some of Watson’s theories.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said: “The fact that a young man sitting in a small flat in south London can create headlines in the US or a British extremist can use the Hungarian capital as a base to influence politics in central, eastern and southern Europe makes monitoring and countering these groups very difficult.”