Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russian Federation claims

Lawmakers want to question Brexit backer on Russia meetings

On Tuesday, Mr. Banks and Mr. Wigmore rejected allegations of Russian interference and improper use of Facebook data, and criticized Mr. Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica along with another whistle-blower, Brittany Kaiser.

Reports in the Sunday Times claimed Banks held a series of undisclosed meetings with Russian embassy officials around the time of the 2016 referendum campaign.

On Sunday, it emerged that Mr Banks had had two more meetings with the Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko than he had previously disclosed in his book on the referendum battle, The Bad Boys of Brexit.

The e-mails also showed that Mr. Banks discussed a potential investment in a Russian gold mining venture with a Russian businessman.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May was asked in the House of Commons by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw whether the newspaper revelations about Mr Banks showed it is "now time for a full police inquiry into the relationship between the Kremlin and the leave campaign in the European Union referendum".

The businessman and Brexit-backer said anti-Brexit journalists assumed "there must be a conspiracy" because he and his colleague Andy Wigmore, a diplomat, had lunched with the Russian ambassador, but "there has been no definitive evidence of anything". The insurance executive also rejected the notion that he had dealings with the Kremlin - though he did acknowledge socializing with the Russian ambassador.

The media committee was quizzing Banks about his possible ties to Russian Federation after the Sunday Times said his contacts there went further than he had previously disclosed. "There is no evidence".

Asked to stay a further five minutes to conclude questioning Mr Banks insisted he had to leave, adding he had been "as open as can be" about claims suggesting an inappropriate relationship with Russian Federation.

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On Tuesday, Mr Banks and Mr Wigmore will appear before the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of an inquiry by MPs into fake news.

Today, he said there were numerous errors in the Guardian's "fake news" reporting of his activities, that is regularly tweeted by Mr. Collins. It had not been mentioned.

Mr Banks walked out of the occasionally ill-tempered hearing before the MPs finished their questions after the committee overran, saying the pair had a lunch appointment.

Laughing, Mr Collins said "nice try".

He added: "I have no business in Russian Federation, I have done no business deals in Russian Federation".

He also revealed he had lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission about their investigation into him and Leave.EU, restricting what could be asked by the committee.

The watchdog said the group - which was separate from the official pro-Brexit group Vote Leave - failed to report "at least" £77,380 it spent.

In vehemently stating that all his business interests were legally structured, Mr Banks let the MPs he was speaking in front of know that he probably paid more tax than them.

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