Brexit donor Arron Banks denies Russian Federation connection

Mae Love
November 7, 2018

After it was reported that Banks had been referred to the National Crime Agency over allegations of criminal activity around donations to Leave campaigns, Lord Adonis and others accused the BBC of breaking protocol by having him on before the criminal investigation has begun.

The Electoral Commission has referred Banks, his campaign Leave.EU, its parent organisation Better for the Country, and "other associated companies and individuals" following its investigation into the 2016 campaign, which focused on a reported £2 million loan to Better for the Country from Banks and his group of insurance companies.

The Electoral Commission said it suspected Banks had tried to "knowingly conceal" the origin of the money, and that the money was provided through a company based in the Isle of Man.

Hundreds of internal emails leaked by former employees of Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to the paper show that despite categorical denials by Banks to MPs, insurance staff worked on the Leave.EU campaign from their company offices, although "any work carried out in the months before the referendum should have been declared under electoral law".

In a combative appearance on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Banks insisted there was "no Russian money and no interference", but contradicted an earlier statement about which of the companies in his insurance business was the source of the funds.

"Contrary to some of the press reports... we turn over £250 million (€284 million) of premium, it's a sizeable business".

Details of how Vote Leave cheated were laid out in full today as the nation comes to grips with the news that one of the campaign's leading donors is to be investigated by the National Crime Agency.

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BBC correspondent John Simpson defended the decision, writing: "The urge to keep people we disapprove of from appearing on our TV screens is very much the same as the desire some university students have to no-platform speakers whose views they disagree with".

"I know it's complex for journalists to understand but we know what this is about - it's about undermining Article 50 and the Brexit result", he added.

It suspected Banks was not the "true source" of loans to the campaign and the money had come "from impermissible sources" - noting several meetings with senior Russian officials about gold mining. Asked why he had written to Mr Collins's constituents in Folkestone and Hythe, calling him a "snake in the grass", Mr Banks replied: "Well, he is".

Mr Collins responded to the letter last week by saying he was "not going to be intimidated out of doing my job" by Mr Banks.

Banks and Leave.EU chief executive Liz Bilney deny any wrongdoing.

"The Conservatives must give the people the final say on Brexit and a chance to remain in the European Union".

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