Brexit funder Arron Banks walks out of MPs' questions for lunch date

  • Brexit funder Arron Banks walks out of MPs' questions for lunch date

Brexit funder Arron Banks walks out of MPs' questions for lunch date

Arron Banks, who helped bankroll the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, will face off with MPs about claims he has links to Russian Federation.

He had previously reported one meeting with Russia's ambassador to Britain, in September 2015.

Banks was attending the select committee inquiring into fake news, in the aftermath of the leak of a cache of emails belonging to him, Wigmore and others which suggested that his dealings with Russian Federation were far more extensive than previously thought.

The Leave.EU funder added that if there was any attempt at Russian interference in the 2016 referendum, then it was at an "amateur level".

Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Mr Banks claims that "hysteria around all of this has been whipped up" because of his evidence today to the committee over his contacts with Russian officials before and after the 2016 European Union referendum.

Laughing, Mr Collins said "nice try".

Leave.EU communications chief Andy Wigmore, who was also appearing before the committee, added: "You can join us if you want".

Mr Banks allegedly discussed a potential business deal involving six Russian gold mines with ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

MPs repeatedly questioned Banks, an insurance entrepreneur, about the sources of his money, prompting Banks to deny any of his wealth that he used to pump at least £9m of loans and donations to the Brexit campaign was from Russian Federation.

Mr Banks said his visas and passport documents showed he was not in Moscow in February 2016, as the newspaper had claimed, and he played down his ties to the country.

"He said he only met the Russian ambassador on one occasion; we now know it was more than that". Lunch with the Russian ambassador? "There is no evidence".

But after more than three hours of questioning from members of the committee about his alleged involvement with Russia Mr Banks stood up and announced he would leave to attend a "luncheon meeting".

Wigmore said the question of whether the campaign's statements about Brexit were "fake news" was a matter of interpretation. It had not been mentioned.

But speaking to MPs at the inquiry, he firmly stated no money from overseas business ventures was used to bankroll the Brexit campaign.

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.

Earlier, it emerged that Banks had lodged an appeal against the Electoral Commission over its decision to levy a £70,000 fine against Leave.EU for breaching its spending limits.